The Price of Saaaaaafety

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One of the very real negatives of modern car design is that even very minor impacts can cause major damage to the car.P1060294

Hit something in a late-model car at 10-20 MPH – a speed unlikely to result in serious physical injuries to the occupants – and you can expect to be replacing the entire front clip, hood and supporting structures underneath.These are of course designed to “crumple” – as you’ve probably heard. To this end, the front and rear “bumpers” of a modern car are typically just thin plastic covers, easily ripped/torn and ruined beyond fixing. Underneath these are structures engineered to collapse.

Hoods are made of almost tissue-thin metal that a reasonably strong man could probably bend in half by hand.

Headlight “assemblies” are made of fragile plastic and often jut out from the car. They are very vulnerable to being damaged irreparably by such things as a runaway shopping cart – and can (and often do) cost a shocking amount to replace.

I’d rather have a car that can take a minor hit without incurring major damage.

Like my 1976 Pontiac. TA inside

It does have a plastic-covered nose. But underneath is a battering ram of a bumper designed not to “crumple.” Instead, it transmits the force of 4,000 pounds of Pontiac to objects in its path. A Civic would not fare well in an encounter with the TA. In a minor impact between the two, my car would probably not even have visible damage. But the damage to the Civic – or any of its modern kin – would likely be considerable. And not just Civics. My car would inflict thousands of dollars in cosmetic damage to an S-Class Benz, too. Its driver would not notice, of course – until he stepped out to swap insurance info. I would not be surprised to learn that the headlight assemblies for a 2014 S-Class cost $500 apiece.

Maybe more.

The doors in a car like my mid-70s Pontiac must weigh at least 100 pounds each. The hood is a massive slab of metal held up by a pair of industrial-gauge steel-coiled hinges.

Prop rods? Forget about it! chicken

Now, granted, if I am ever in a major wreck in the Trans-Am, I am probably more likely to be more severely hurt than I would be if I had the same wreck while driving a modern, crumple-zoned car designed to take the hit in my stead. But most wrecks are not major. Mostly, they are of the fender-bender type. Only nowadays, more than just the fenders tend to get bent.

This one of the main reasons why insurance costs have skyrocketed – even as highway fatalities have decreased. Yes, cars are safer. But they also cost a helluva lot more to fix when damaged. And they are much more easily damaged, as a result of making them safer.

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. But, people forget.

Until, of course, they are presented with the bill. fender bender 1

Almost everyone will, at some point, hit a deer, or bump into another car or slide off the road at relatively low speed during a snowstorm. These are accidents – properly speaking. Meaning, largely unavoidable, not attributable to driver error.

When this sort of minor impact happened while driving a typical American car of the ’60s or ’70s, the damage was usually superficial and didn’t cost a fortune to fix. Sometimes – if the car had external bumpers – all you had to do was pull the bumper back into place, which could be done with a chain or some heavy rope and a large tree. Very often, the car was still perfectly drivable, post incident. Some panels might have been askew, some chrome scuffed – but these could be lived with if you didn’t feel like spending the money to get the car fixed.

Today, you’re often looking at a couple thousand dollars in cosmetic damage. Those rubbery plastic “fascias” that now cover the front and rear ends of all modern cars are usually not repairable once torn or deformed. They must be replaced, too – because they’re frequently only partially hanging on, post-impact. And because they “crumple” so readily, any rigid parts bolted to them – the grille, for instance, which is also usually made of cheap but costly plastic – will also frequently break. The wafer thin fenders and hood are next to bend – and once they do, they also must be replaced. fender bender 2

And, of course, repainted.

I’ve got a pair of Nissan Frontier pick-ups. One is a ’98, the other a 2002. Same basic truck, but by 2002, Nissan had replaced the external metal bumper with a plastic “fascia” – and the sealed beam glass headlights with plastic “assemblies.” I hit a deer in the ’98. The impact pushed the bumper in about two inches on the driver’s side and cracked the driver’s side headlight. Using a heavy rope tied to a tree and the other end looped around the bumper, I put the truck in reverse and pulled the bumper back into place. Cost: Ten minutes of my time. The cracked headlight? $25 at Advance Auto for a new sealed beam. Truck looked as it did, pre-deer.

The next year, my wife hit a deer while driving the ’02. The entire front “fascia” had to be replaced – and repainted to match –  along with the driver’s side fender. The headlight “assembly” (Nissan had upgraded the 2002 Frontier) cost more than the front fender. I have the receipt: $122. fender bender 3

Total tab: $2,200 and change.

I paid out of pocket rather than inform the insurance Mafia. Because of course, once you use insurance, as surely as the sun sets in the West, they’ll “adjust” your premiums accordingly. Insurance is simply another tributum that must be paid.

And the main reason it costs so much? Because modern cars are so very, very safe.

Throw it in the Woods?  

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  45 comments for “The Price of Saaaaaafety

  1. Ethan
    December 24, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Consumption and culture driven by fear rather than careful choices.

    Also, you’re not blacklisted, stop lying to your readers. Look it up.

    • eric
      December 24, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      Ethan,

      They de-listed us.

      For several years, we’d been using their Adsense service; letting them place ads on the site and getting paid according to their inscrutable internal (never shared with us or any other Google Adsense publisher) criteria. Nonetheless, EPautos had a pretty decent audience and we were consistently earning enough to make this an economically viable proposition. Then, one fine day, we got an e-mail from them informing us we’d run afoul of some criteria (never told what) and – like that - our Adsense revenue literally disappeared. Our Google ranking went from 2-3 (very high) to the lowest possible. Despite repeated attempts to contact them and resolve whatever their issue with us was, we could never do better than get formulaic, auto-generated responses. It almost killed us. Dom & I went through months of seriously unpleasant shit. Since then, we’ve both worked literally every day, 24/7, to keep this thing going – with the help of the people out there who read and appreciate the site.

      Bottom line: Please don’t accuse me of lying – a serious charge – unless you have some evidence to back it up.

      • BrentP
        December 25, 2013 at 2:42 am

        Eric most people (including me) equate being delisted by google as being removed from search engine results rather than being down listed or delisted by their advertisement service. It took awhile for me to figure out what you and Dom meant.

        Back when this first came up I did some simple search engine checks. Searching by name ep autos etc, searching for reviews by car name only etc and nothing seemed amiss. I just repeated the exercise. The matches for recent reviews didn’t come up in one case and the other case it was further down than it was previous. So it might now be applying a worse score for people looking for car reviews or this is just an effect of people coming here not generating ad revenue for them. But delisted from the search engine side hasn’t happened and that’s what most people think.

        • Tor Minotaur
          December 25, 2013 at 5:35 am

          BrentP,

          You’re certainly a credible person, and I enjoy reading your posts.

          But as with Ethan, none of what you’re saying has even one morsel of substance that I can glean.

          Rather than Ethan’s juvenile accusatory language, what you wrote seems like vaporous glittering generalities.

          If you have superior insight or clarity to offer, It seems dubious you’ve yet made it explicit and visible to “most people.”

          Maybe whatever happened, doesn’t yet have a term. If he wasn’t de-listed, then what was he?
          De-google-page-ranked?

          I submit neither you, Dom, nor Eric know what has happened. googul may not know any specifics either, this site tripped one of their algorithms for whatever reason, and they stopped funding this site.

          There are effects that can be seen, but I submit no one has yet named the cause.
          – – – –

          Question: How can it be that the 34,000th most popular US website has 0 googul page rank and has been deemed not worthy of the money typical of a site with that level of traffic?

          Web Page URL: http://ericpetersautos.com
          The Page Rank: 0/10
          (the page rank value is 0 from 10 possible points)

          Answer: Because this site has been “de-googul’ed” whatever that means.

          • BrentP
            December 25, 2013 at 1:59 pm

            I don’t know page rank stuff. I’m just saying most people think delisted means it doesn’t come up in search results.

            But as to page rank and stuff for some reason epautos.com and ericpetersautos.com diverge. Currently epautos.com comes up with ‘americans don’t drive’ as the most recent article for me. Even after a reload. It almost seems as if they are constructed as two separate sites that share rather than simply having both domain names resolve to the same site. This could be causing googles bots to alert.

    • Tor Minotaur
      December 24, 2013 at 5:12 pm

      Handsome Ethan,

      He’s a liar? Look it up? What does that mean?

      • eric
        December 24, 2013 at 5:39 pm

        Thanks, Tor – and, Merry Christmas!

        • Tor Minotaur
          December 27, 2013 at 9:54 am

          Glücklich Stephanitag und ein gutes Zweitausend Vierzehn, Eric!

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BIArIBxsSU
          “ich bin eine Glocke Geborsten in der Glut des Brandes. Ich stürzte aus dem verwüsteten Turm, als die Stadt unter Krieg und Ängsten seufzte. 1945.”

      • dom
        December 24, 2013 at 8:30 pm

        “Handsome Ethan” too funny! Where do these people come from? For the record, I was the one dealing with all the Google bullshit. They had us jumping through loops only to make them smaller and increase in number. I suppose I’m a liar too. The whole situation has been discussed at length here Ethan. Just “look it up.”

        • Tor Minotaur
          December 25, 2013 at 5:05 am

          Footage of Ethan witnessing the site being delisted by a googul hit man:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXRM3lFRwRI

          googul: “Ericpetersautos, typical random bastards! Die half-breeds”

          Ethan: “Hey Dom, look at these cans! These cans are defective. googul hates these cans! There’s cans in there too. Stay away from the cans! Oh no! More cans!”

  2. michael.white
    December 24, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    The wife hit a deer with the LR4 and ended up cracking a fender flare and knocking out a fog light surround. I looked for a “real” bull bar/bumper from Land Rover but, from what I researched, Land Rover wasn’t allowed to install such a bumper on their trucks any more due to EU safety regulations. Land Rover only offers cheap plastic headlight protectors and such – nothing made of metal. Real Land Rover bumpers ended with the LR3, for which (I believe) Land Rover offered a bumper. I ended up going with a bull bar from ARB, an Australian company, which should take care of those pesky deer.

  3. mava
    December 23, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    I had rear-ended a brand new Honda Accord last year. I was pulling out backwards from a parking spot and turning, and have collided with a guy driving that Honda who was driving straight down the driveway.

    I looked, but I didn’t see him, and he says he didn’t see me. So, we have collided. The speed of the collision was so low, that I wasn’t even sure that was the impact. I stopped my 1990 vehicle and got out to discover that:
    -The one day old Honda had her entire front gone.
    -My 22 year old sedan had a tiny scratch on the rear bumper and a hole in a rear light about a size of a quarter.

    It cost me $22 to replace both rear lights (because the other one had a scratch from who knows when).

    I heard that the Honda was totaled. No more fender-benders for us, I guess. Now, every time we hit a bug, we’ll just replace the whole car.

    • eric
      December 24, 2013 at 6:31 am

      Hi Mava,

      Yup.

      This is not uncommon.

      I know a woman, a friend of my wife’s. She has a late-model Toyota Solara convertible. She was backing out of her own garage – and had forgotten that she’d parked her old (1980s) truck in a different spot on the pad the day before. She back into it at walking speed. No visible damage to the truck. But the Solara is going to need a new rear “fascia” plus tail light assembly and trunk lid. I’d estimate at least $1,500 in cosmetic damage – probably more.

      I advised her to bite the bullet and pay it out of pocket because if she files a claim, the insurance Mafia will financially rack her forever.

  4. bmac6446
    December 23, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Back in 1987, I owned a hopped up 83 Mustang in Berlin Germany. One day, while waiting for the typically full intersection to clear before making a left turn, a new S class Mercedes struck me in the rear. After hearing the expensive noise of broken glass and collapsing plastic I sprang out of the car. What I saw was a destroyed Mercedes and my rear bumper pop back out to normal shape. Only a very minor scratch to the after market Porsche red paint. The Mercedes driver was furious that my “Ami auto” was built too strong! All said I invested about $6000 in my Beamer Killer and he had multiples of that laying on the ground.

    • BrentP
      December 24, 2013 at 3:17 am

      Sounds like classic brake dive crash. His bumper goes down and the headlights hit the Mustang’s bumper… which for a fox body I think is like my SN95, Nice hard steel box section under a soft bumper cover and styrofoam. Hard steel box tube through glass, plastic and sheet steel.

  5. JdL
    December 23, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    A Civic would not fare well in an encounter with the TA. In a minor impact between the two, my car would probably not even have visible damage. But the damage to the Civic – or any of its modern kin – would likely be considerable.

    The Civic would also have more damage than if you’d been driving a modern car. So, from that standpoint, you’re a menace to other cars, and their drivers, when you drive your TA.

    • eric
      December 23, 2013 at 6:13 pm

      Only if I hit them… if they hit me, well, then it’s on them!

      • to5
        December 24, 2013 at 4:33 am

        For a short while I owned a 76 ford econoline 350 van used by an air con company. Rear bumper was checker plate steel, 6 beams underneath solidly welded to the frame all the way to the rear axle. Bumper stuck out 18 in. from back of van. Never had to worry about tailgaters.

        • eric
          December 24, 2013 at 6:12 am

          A beast like that is just the ticket for urban-suburban driving!

  6. jamtilimpact
    December 23, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    My first car wreck ever was in 1986. I had a powder blue 1964 Dodge Dart. The guy who rear-ended me had one of the new Nissan Hardbody pickups. I got out to inspect the damage. His truck was crushed all the way back to the windshield. I just knew my car would be destroyed and my folks would have a fit. As I got to the back of my car I started laughing because the only damage the old Dart suffered was a crack in the drivers side tail light. A CRACK! The Hardbody turned out to be quite soft.

  7. Dave P.
    December 23, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    I’ve had a few scrapes since buying my 2001 Camry, but most were just minor dents/scratches on the bumper or fender. Sadly, the worst thing that happened was my fault when I bumped into the guy in front of me when getting ready to make a right turn at a red light. He’d stopped suddenly and I didn’t react in time.

    Thankfully, he had no damage but my repair job was still over $2000. I’m a lot more attentive when there are people in front of me when making a right turn at a red light though.

  8. Uncle Bill
    December 23, 2013 at 11:59 am

    In our auto rehab projects, we prefer the 70s vehicles, especially trucks. Solid, usually rust free out here in the dry west and easy to work on. More modern vehicles, by gummint mandate, are overly complex, expensive and offer less value for the inflated dollar. I can usually get buyers for these old timers before they’re out of the shop. Some folks still recognize value.
    My son recently was involved in a fender bender with a new Camry. He was driving his ’69 Power Wagon. Guess who won?

    Uncle Bill

  9. Cloverfromwichita
    December 23, 2013 at 11:03 am

    From what I recall a small car like my Maverick in 1972 cost just about as much to repair in current dollars as my Ion would today. Plus the Ion is an all around much better car. Eric is welcome to his nostalgia. Old cars simply aren’t all he imagines.

  10. December 23, 2013 at 10:07 am

    I just can’t help myself but grin while reading this one. Remember that Mercedes Smart you so love to hate? All the colored panels are made of “soft” colored plastic and recover from such minor impacts without requiring anything in the way of repair. Their color is integral as well, so no paint is ever required either. If any of these panels do need replacing, it takes only a few minutes. I am told that you can change the entire car’s colored panels in a couple of hours.

    What this reminds me of is the cheapest car I ever owned. It was a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow which I bought almost new (with 3,000 miles on it) in the early 1980’s. Twice a year I would take it in for servicing @ $500 a pop. After driving it for 5 years I sold it for 85% of my original purchase price. Quality counts. :)

  11. BrentP
    December 22, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Damage and the cost is more how the car was hit than anything else. The big cost is painting. How many panels have been involved drives the cost of the painting.

    60s and 70s vehicles really don’t fare all that well in minor crashes cosmetically either. The frames will be tweaked from hits at just the wrong angle. I once found a ’75 Maverick grabber sitting in a lot, rotting. I later encountered the owner at a local junkyard. He said he wanted to sell it. I couldn’t buy it. The reason it was sitting was because it took a hit to the driver’s rear 1/4 panel. Probably at relatively low speed but hard enough in just the wrong spot. The passenger side quarter panel had a corresponding ripple. This meant the frame rails were tweaked (likely the trunk floor too) and the car probably would not drive straight. I didn’t have the facility or funds to fix or have that kind of damage fixed. Keep in mind the basic maverick unit body design covered many 60s and 70s Fords. A scaled up version was used for the fairlane/torino too. It actually had less visible body damage than my ’73 ended up with when a kid crossed the center line. But being a lengthwise hit, it was wall rippled sheet metal and bent trim.

    This is how modern cars die too. Getting hit just the wrong way. They are quite fixable if hit such that they only suffered cosmetic damage. The cosmetic damage really isn’t that much greater either. Sealed beams are cheap but ever price out glass headlamps? Glass is way better for everything but breaks just as good as plastic in a collision. That and the painted bumper cover is really the only place the costs go up. Perhaps some structures underneath that old cars don’t have, in which case the old car would have core support damage instead of this hunk of plastic that holds the head lamps and grill. Also the chrome metal bumpers of older cars if they were pre 5mph usually took out other parts when they bent or with 5mph had to have the bumper shocks replaced. Six of one half a dozen of the other.

    Pretty much an unit body car is going to fare about the same when it comes to repairability on an economic basis.

    • Tor Minotaur
      December 27, 2013 at 10:33 am

      Dear BrentP,

      I think there is something wrong with “smart sites” like Yandex or googul deciding which site is the main mirror/main page of ericpetersautos . Regular stats sites lite quantcast without googulPanda and complex algorithms don’t seem as confused.

      When I search using Yandex (#4 world search engine), it says ericpetersautos is not the main mirror site.

      Probably this results because the way the whole site is forwarded(not preferred) rather than each individual page redirected corresponding with each other(less confusing for search engines like googul)

      [www . old-site . ru/old-path -301-> www . new-site . ru/old-path]

      Main Issue
      1 ericpetersautos should be the main site (yet has a pagerank of 0)
      2 epautos should forward to 1 (pagerank of 4 [total waste, has no search engine hits])
      3 libertariancarguy should forward to 1 (pagerank 0 which is ok)

      Main Error to Correct
      Somehow #2/epautos gets the pagerank of 4 from googul, which looks to be an error

      4 clovercam is also on the same IP, and looks to have no problems
      Googulpagerank for it is 2, eazy peazy

      Good News/No Problems
      Quantcast says ericpetersautos is the 13,180th ranked US site; and that this site reaches over 124,000 unique U.S. monthly people.

      Forget Googul, maybe improve functionality of sites on bing/yahoo, baidu, yandex (#2 #3 #4 search engines)

      Yandex FAQs.

      A) Are mirrors indexed?

      The robot pastes the mirrors together. Only one of them, the main mirror, is indexed and participates in the search.

      B) How can I change the main mirror?

      There are two unrelated methods for main mirror change:
      •Using the Host directive.
      •Using server redirect from pages at the old domain to correspondent pages of the new domain. This method is recommended if the new domain is not a secondary mirror.
      •You can use the Yandex . Webmaster “Main mirror” tool if you need to select between an address with www and without.

      Main mirror change occurs with a certain delay. After a certain time, the site starts appearing in the search under the name of the new main mirror.

      [epautos & libertariancarguy robot . txt]
      User-agent: *
      Disallow: /cgi-bin
      Disallow: /wp-admin
      Disallow: /wp-includes
      Disallow: /wp-content
      Disallow: /wget/
      Disallow: /httpd/

      User-agent: Mediapartners-Google
      Allow: /

      User-agent: Adsbot-Google
      Allow: /

      User-agent: Googlebot-Image
      Allow: /

      User-agent: Googlebot-Mobile
      Allow: /

      User-agent: ia_archiver-web.archive.org
      Allow: /

      User-agent: archive.org
      Allow: /

      Sitemap: http ://www . ericpetersautos . com/sitemap.xml

      Sometimes, the page you’re trying to rank – the one that visitors will find relevant and useful to their query – isn’t the page the engines have chosen to place first. When this happens, it can be a frustrating experience trying to determine what course of action to take. In this blog post, I’ll walk through some of the root causes of this problem, as well as five potential solutions.
      http://moz.com/blog/wrong-page-ranking-in-the-results-6-common-causes-5-solutions

      Internal Anchor Text
      The most common issue we see when digging into these problems is the case of internal anchor text optimization gone awry. Many sites will have the keyword they’re targeting on the intended page linking to another URL (or several) on the site in a way that can mislead search engines. If you want to be sure that the URL yoursite . com/frogs ranks for the keyword “frogs,” make sure that anchor text that says “frogs” points to that page. See this post on keyword cannibalization for more on this specific problem.
      _
      External Link Bias
      The next most common issue we observe is the case of external links preferring a different page than you, the site owner or marketer, might. This often happens when an older page on your site has discussed a topic, but you’ve more recently produced an updated, more useful version. Unfortunately, links on the web tend to still reference the old URL. The anchor text of these links, the context they’re in and the reference to the old page may make it tough for a new page to overcome the prior’s rankings.
      _
      Link Authority & Importance Metrics
      There are times when a page’s raw link metrics – high PageRank, large numbers of links and linking root domains – will simply overpower other relevance signals and cause it to rank well despite barely targeting (and sometimes barely mentioning) a keyword phrase. In these situations, it’s less about the sources of links, the anchor text or the relevance and more a case of powerful pages winning out through brute force. On Google, this happens less than it once did (at least in our experience), but can still occur in odd cases.
      _
      On-Page Optimization
      In some cases, a webmaster/marketer may not realize that the on-page optimization of a URL for a particular keyword term/phrase is extremely similar to another. To differentiate and help ensure the right page ranks, it’s often wise to de-emphasize the target keyword on the undesirable page and target it more effectively (without venturing into keyword stuffing or spam) on the desired page. This post on keyword targeting can likely be of assistance.
      _
      Improper Redirects
      We’ve seen the odd case where an old redirect has pointed a page that heavily targeted a keyword term/phrase (or had earned powerful links around that target) to the wrong URL. These can be very difficult to identify because the content of the 301’ing page no longer exists and it’s hard to know (unless you have the history) why the current page might be ranking despite no effort. If you’ve been through the other scenarios, it’s worth looking to see if 301 redirects from other URLs point to the page in question and running a re-pointing test to see if they could be causing the issue.
      _
      Topic Modeling / Content Relevance Issues
      This is the toughest to identify and to explain, but that won’t stop us from trying :-) Essentially, you can think of the search engines doing a number of things to determine the degree of relevancy of a page to a keyword. Determining topic areas and identifying related terms/phrases and concepts is almost certainly among these (we actually hope to have some proof of Google’s use of LDA, in particular, in the next few months to share on the blog). Seeing as this is likely the case, the engine may perceive that the page you’re trying to rank isn’t particularly “on-topic” for the target keyword while another page that appears less “targeted” from a purely SEO/keyphrase usage standpoint is more relevant.

      Once you’ve gone through this list and determined which issues might be affecting your results, you’ll need to take action to address the problem. If it’s an on-page or content issue, it’s typically pretty easy to fix. However, if you run into external linking imbalances, you may need more dramatic action to solve the mismatch and get the right page ranking.

      Next, we’ll tackle some specific, somewhat advanced, tactics to help get the right page on top:
      The 301 Redirect (or Rel Canonical) & Rebuild
      In stubborn cases or those where a newer page is replacing an old page, it may be wise to simply 301 redirect the new page to the old page (or the other way around) and choose the best-converting/performing content for the page that stays. I generally like the strategy of maintaining the older, ranking URL and redirecting the newer one simply because the metrics for that old page may be very powerful and a 301 does cause some loss of link juice (according to the folks at Google). However, if the URL string itself isn’t appropriate, it can make sense to instead 301 to the new page instead.

      Be aware that if you’re planning to use rel=canonical rather than a 301 (which is perfectly acceptable), you should first ensure that the content is exactly the same on both pages. Trying to maintain two different version of a page with one canonicalizing to another isn’t specifically against the engines’ guidelines, but it’s also not entirely white hat (and it may not work, since the engines do some checking to determine content matches before counting rel=canonical sometimes).
      _
      The Content Rewrite
      If you need to maintain the old page and have a suspicion that content focus, topic modeling or on-page optimization may be to blame, a strategy of re-authoring the page from scratch and focusing on both relevance and user experience may be a wise path. It’s relatively easy to test and while it will suck away time from other projects, it may be helpful to give the page more focused, relevant, useful and conversion-inducing material.
      _
      The Link Juice Funnel
      If you’re fairly certain that raw link metrics like PageRank or link quantities are to blame for the issue, you might want to try funneling some additional internal links to the target page (and possibly away from the currently ranking page). You can use a tool like Open Site Explorer to identify the most important/well-linked-to pages on your site and modify/add links to them to help channel juice into the target page and boost its rankings/prominence.
      _
      The Content Swap
      If you strongly suspect that the content of the pages rather than the link profiles may be responsible and want to test, this is the strategy to use. Just swap the on-page and meta data (titles, meta description, etc) between the two pages and see how/if it impacts rankings for the keyword. Just be prepared to potentially lose traffic during the test period (this nearly always happens, but sometimes is worth it to confirm your hypothesis). If the less-well-ranked page rises with the new content while the better-ranked page falls, you’re likely onto something.
      _
      The Kill ‘Em with External Links
      If you can muster a brute force, external link growth strategy, either through widgets/badges, content licensing, a viral campaign to get attention to your page or just a group of friends with websites who want to help you out, go for it. We’ve often seen this precise strategy lift one page over another and while it can be a lot of work, it’s also pretty effective.

      While this set of recommendations may not always fix the issue, it can almost always help identify the root cause(s) and give you a framework in which to proceed.

  12. justin
    December 22, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    We just got our soon to be 16 yr old a 4wd 79 Chevy pickup

    • eric
      December 23, 2013 at 6:15 am

      Lucky kid!

      Those mid-late ’70s (and into the ’80s) trucks were damn near the apotheosis of “truck.” Just modern enough to be everyday drivable in the modern world – but not so modern that they’re preposterously expensive to keep on the road. I like that they’re proud to be trucks – not trucks trying hard to act like cars (as most modern trucks do).

      Real-deal,lock-the-hubs 4×4 heaven!

  13. Brandonjin
    December 22, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    “These are accidents – properly speaking. Meaning, largely unavoidable, not attributable to driver error.”

    Interesting you say that. I spent 2 days in my high school driver’s ed class before I transferred. First day of instruction, he said ALL accidents are due to human error. In one way or another, all accidents are, in some way preceding or during the event, a human’s fault. I imagine that, for hitting a deer, or the such, he would say that accident could have been prevented by driving slower. :)

    • eric
      December 22, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      The dude sounds like a tool!

      Yeah, sure. If you slowed the car to walking speed, most deer strikes (and so on) could be avoided. But the driver has no control over the deer, so it’s not his error when one bounds out of the woods and into your fender!

      • ЯΞ√ΩLUT↑☼N
        December 22, 2013 at 10:41 pm

        Heh.. As happened to me back in my Army days Eric. Was driving someone home on-base late one night on duty and a kangaroo (these things travel like low altitude cruise missiles and don’t care what’s in their peripheral vision) slammed itself into the Army ute’s right hand door and guard and left some significant damage.

        Upon reporting it to the Military Police (these guys are natural arseholes), they asked me how fast I was going – sheesh. Like that makes a difference!

        It’s a 60k zone and I just turned out of the intersection, so I was doing about 30. At least I wasn’t charged with anything.

        About 10 years ago a young workmate was following a Merc CLK a bit too close. The Merc suddenly found the street it was looking for and braked sharply. Obviously, friend clips his rear end and when he reversed, tore the bumper clean off – $6k damage!!

        Luckily, the Merc driver said he was partly at fault so my mate was left with a $3k bill. Yikes.

        It seems these days you NEED insurance because cars are more difficult to self-repair.

        • December 23, 2013 at 3:01 am

          It seems these days you NEED insurance because cars are more difficult to self-repair.

          Interestingly, around forty years ago my father told me that cars then were a lot easier to work on than in the ’30s and ’40s, as one of the major areas of development had been to improve the layouts so everything was a lot more accessible. I suppose now there are modules that are easier to get at and so easier to replace, but a lot more in need of replacement as you can’t get into them to work on them even if you know how (and probably deliberately hard to get into to stop fools who mistakenly think they know what they’re doing from trying – the designers obviously didn’t try to make them easy to learn how to fix, though).

          • ЯΞ√ΩLUT↑☼N
            December 23, 2013 at 4:04 am

            Agreed Mr. Lawrence. Trouble is that these days there are just too many unknown modules in many cars. But interestingly, my nephew recently bought a late model Ford ute. The engine bay is surprisingly empty – similar to a 70’s model.

            Coils for every spark plug (straight 6) are hidden inside the rocker cover and easy to access. Wiring and hoses are minimal. I can actually fit my entire arm (and a tool!) in there.

            Something went really wrong with the early Toyota Crown (one of my ex’s cars) though – Engine bay was a mess of spaghetti. Hoses and wiring everywhere. Must have been the beginnings of emissions control.

            http://collectableclassiccars.com.au/wp-content/uploads/formidable/Toyota-Crown-Front-Quarter-1024×598.jpg

        • eric
          December 23, 2013 at 6:03 am

          That’s definitely part of it, Rev.

          It’s easy enough to render a car not-drivable because the front or rear clip has been partially (or entirely) torn off – and fixing it is often more complicated than merely bolting on/off.

          One thing I forgot to mention in the article but should have is that FWD-based layouts (the majority of cars nowadays) are easier to hurt and cost more to fix, too.

        • Jean
          December 23, 2013 at 10:19 am

          Rev – to the MPs, you shoud’ve said, “Obviously not fast enough, or I would’ve been past the little SOB instead of talking to you now.”

          Of course, even someone outisde the service knows that MPs don’t have a sense of humor…
          But that only underscores how effing stupid people really are. Like the USPS (or was it UPS?) commercial some years back – all the executives are talking about “thinking outside the box” – while you, you’re in the shipping department, and all you think about IS THE BOX….
          Po-Leez think you’re the box, and every interaction is colored by that: You’re a criminal they haven’t caught yet, a threat to occifer safety, and damn lucky they’re there to show you the error of your ways. If you got hit by lightning on a clear day in the city while SURROUNDED by lightning rods, you’d still be guilty of something they could charge you with…

          They just need to search your pockets and put the drugs there…

          • Eightsouthman
            December 24, 2013 at 12:24 am

            Jean, great examples of accurate thought. And I lift my glass to the awful truth but you can’t reveal to the innocent youth, except to say it Isn’t worth a dime. And the whole damn place goes crazy twice, it’s once for the devil and it’s once for the Christ but the boss don’t like these dizzy heights, we’re busted in a blinded light, closing time………women tear their blouses off……….it’s closing time……and it’s hell to pay when the fiddler stops……..and it’s closing time.

          • Jean
            December 24, 2013 at 10:41 am

            EightSouth,
            Given my treatment at the hands of my “Christian” family between 12/6 and 12/16 – I think I’m on the side of Morningstar.
            God’s either not omniscient/omnipotent, insane, or a sadist. Either way – no point offering any sort of worship. It is logically insane to blame one’s self for all the bad, while giving thanks to God for all the good – it beggars the imagination, that our actions result in bad things, and only God “makes” good things happen.
            Either God is responsible for it all, or we are responsible for it all. (And there’s an argument to be made that some are on either side – God did one, Man the other. But there’s no correlation of either with Good or Bad.)

            Closing time, indeed. The Iron Curtain is falling on Center Stage USSA, and all the people, merely players, make their entrances and exits, and in their life, play many parts…

            Yet how do we wake them from their slumber? Can we at least point them in the right direction, as the resources here are so vast that even Gubberment mismanagement cannot end this beast, which eats its own tail yet grows ever larger, leviathan.
            And when the (Science) Fiction becomes Fact, they will all squeal and mewl and seig heil in unison – they’ll have no choice, and care less, as the immunizations will have been perverted into mind control using the technologies THAT ALREADY EXIST…

            Yet somehow – WE are the crazy ones. WE, who have HEARD the word, and (either by logic, moral drive, or simple choice, that such thing as religion makes a better world) accepted it (God or no god) as useful – WE are the EVIL ones.

            Remind me again – Cain killed Abel, when Abel listened to the voices, and responded lickety-split – yet this one, who was what we would term psychotic, was loved by God – while the one who refused to simply burn things to death, HE was marked by God and sent amongst men?
            Well, Christ did say his followers would be persecuted.
            And took the “loyal followers” of YHWH to task many times.

            Me, I’ve known pagans, even Satanists, who were more Christian than my own family….
            THAT tells me something.

            Nothing new under the sun…

    • BrentP
      December 22, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      If you get really technical that’s correct. After all a human once built the car. If there is road debris that blows out a tire it’s probably because some human allowed it to fall from his vehicle. If a brake hose bursts from a manufacturing defect it’s probably a mistake by a human back at the factory… If a deer runs into the side of the car it’s probably because some hunter missed the previous deer season, so yeah, there’s always a mistake preceding an event if you think about it long enough :)

      • Brandonjin
        December 22, 2013 at 9:11 pm

        That is correct. And this train of thought can be broadly applied to anything then.

        Can we define a tornado blowing a house down as an accident? Well, it could have been avoided if the home owners had not been “cheap” and built the house with really strong materials.

        Guess the old man was right. :P

    • Eric_G
      December 22, 2013 at 9:57 pm

      Sounds like the safety manager at work. If you have a damage complaint, traffic accident or other mishap you get to spend a day in class with the safety woman, who, while easy on the eyes, makes sure you understand that every accident is preventable.

      1st thing we did after introductions was to go through our accident with the class so she could tell us how we “should” have handled the situation. In my case (backed up with pictures from the scene), instead of doing the best I could, I should have “called my supervisor and told him I couldn’t complete the job.” I was just trying to get the cable back on at the time, but according to her I should have stopped working the outage and let customers go without service.

      You can guess how well that went over with the rest of the class, and what would have likely happened to me if I had tried to tell my boss that one.

    • Phillip the Bruce
      December 23, 2013 at 11:27 am

      Does “human” error include gunverment error, as in: designing and building the roads, setting the (arbitrary) speed limits, inspecting the cars that drive on them, licensing the drivers, etc.?

      • Brandonjin
        December 24, 2013 at 6:58 pm

        Well, I would agree. The govt does consist of, at least biologically, humans, and thus are then susceptible to mistakes. I imagine, though, if presented with this, the government worker would then be of the opinion that everyone makes mistakes, and all possible accidents cannot be avoided. Or, worse, he would say that every rule set in place, every road built, every govt process, is perfect as it is, and mistakes/accidents are still only because of… people.

        To others who have pointed out that driving faster could have just as well prevented an accident as driving slower, thanks. I’ll be sure to present this logic to others.

    • to5
      December 24, 2013 at 4:22 am

      Or driving FASTER. If you were going faster, you would have been ahead of the deer. Driving slower can put you in more danger.

  14. DR
    December 22, 2013 at 10:42 am

    The insurance state-enforced monopoly – you nailed it. I’ve gone through three older Volvos for my then teen drivers. In each case, what happened was a relatively minor collision (two deer, two low speed uh-ohs), upon which, due to the expense of repairing the mostly cosmetic damage, the cars were “totaled” by the insurance mafia. Translation: we give you a fraction of the car’s lowest book value, you “buy it back” from us for a few hundred, then you find a shop or whatever to put it back into drivable shape. The worst was the airbag that blew out in one of the relatively minor accidents, injuring my daughter in its deployment (older airbags were like a small charge of dynamite in the face).
    It’s a racket – start to finish. This is what ALWAYS happens when the State gets involved and co-opted with anything. Obamaocare, anyone?

  15. Eric_G
    December 22, 2013 at 9:23 am

    When I was a kid we had a 1976 Charger Daytona (same body as the Cordoba, but without the tacky vinyl roof). Mom was driving it when a (VW) rabbit jumped out in front of her. The rabbit was totaled, the charger lost the plastic grill and had a small hole in the fiberglass front panel. Dad got a new grill and front piece from the rabbit’s insurance company, installed the grill himself, and patched the hole in the fiberglass. Sill have the car (and the extra front end), but it only goes out on special occasions.

    Years ago I shot an ad (commercial) for a high end auto body shop. They wanted to feature their new uni-body frame straightener, which featured lasers and hydraulic rams and other high tech wonders. I was very impressed. I asked how much they charge for such a service, and nearly did a spit take when they told me. But then they quickly pointed out the high dollar Mercedes being tortured on the rack was being repaired because the insurance company wouldn’t total it. I guess as long as your bid is a dollar cheaper than replacement they’ll take it.

    Of course they claimed once they were done the frame would be better than the factory, so who knows?

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