Stick your iPad in your Dash

The innovative guys at SoundMan Car Audio had big plans for launch day of the new iPad in the US earlier this month.  Watch how they got busy installing the iPad into the dash of a Toyota Tacoma (Hilux in Australia).

Check out the rest of the installation videos on the SoundMan Car Audio YouTube channel to see how they iron out the bugs.  Interesting stuff!

Start Your Car from your iPhone with Viper SmartStart

Imagine being able to warm up your car on a cold morning before you step out of the house, or cool down your car  in a hot supermarket carpark while you’re lining up at the checkout.  The Viper SmartStart iPhone app from Directed Electronics enables you to do just that, all from your iPhone or iPod Touch.

As well as allowing you to start your car, this app allows you to unlock/lock doors and open the boot remotely as well as activate the panic alarm/car finder from almost anywhere so long as your car is within range of GSM cellular signal and your iPhone has 3G or wi-fi signal.

Also beta testing is currently under way on push notifications to your phone should your car alarm be triggered.

You need not worry about your car being stolen after you start it remotely as the doors remain locked and you still require the key to drive it away.

The Viper SmartStart app allows you to link to several cars but each car requires a separate SmartStart system installed.

The Viper SmartStart iPhone App is free to download but requires the Viper SmartStart System or (SmartStart module on Viper compatible systems) be installed in your vehicle which retail in the US for US$499 and US$299 respectively plus a yearly subscription fee of US$29.95 for the SmartStart service.

The only bad news is that the Viper SmartStart system is not yet available in Australia but will hopefully be launched here in 2010.

Never lose anything down car seat cracks again

I stumbled across this nifty little product while surfing the net.  If you’re constantly losing coins, phones or your m&m’s down the sides of your car seat like I do, then you may see why I got a little excited about the Drop Stop Car Wedge

For US$19.95 plus postage and handling (Drop Stop take international orders) you receive 2 Drop Stops and  a Slide Free Pad and LED Credit Card light .

How Drop Stop Car Wedges Work

The Drop Stop squeezes in to fill the gap between your seat and centre  console and has a cutout for the seatbelt catch.  It’s unobtrusive and unnoticeable, until off course you drop something.  Drop Stop claims to fit all size cars and trucks.

Drop Stop Car Wedge

I just wonder where my kids will get their money from if I installed a couple of these Drop Stops in my car!

Visit http://www.buydropstop.com/ for more info.

Holiday Flashback – Touring in the Hyundai iMax CRDi

Last year,  my family travelled to the Gold Coast from Sydney in the Hyundai iMax CRDi thanks to Paul Wakeling Hyundai.  This is my review from the adventure…seems like only yesterday!

The Hyundai iMax is so incredibly spacious - fits 8 people comfortably and all their luggage.

The annual summer holiday road trip conjures up images reminiscent of a B-grade horror movie. Hot and sweaty family members frustrated and on the verge of killing each other. Sharing their limited space for endless hours in a crowded metal box and all to the spine-chilling looping soundtrack of “Are we there yet?”

However, this year’s trip to the Gold Coast was to be a welcome break from that nightmare.  This year my family was driving up in the new Hyundai iMax and we were actually looking forward to the trip as much as the destination.  Our travelling tribe consisted of three adults, two teenagers and two young children and we had originally planned to take two cars.  Now with the iMax we were able to travel together, share the driving and save money on fuel.

Our concern with having only one vehicle for seven people was predominantly luggage space.  Many people movers have plenty of passenger room but compromise on space in the luggage area.  Our jaws dropped at the sight of the massive 851 litre boot in the iMax which had more than enough room for all our luggage plus a stroller.
We put the booster seat in the third row, loaded up the kids with their pillows and blankets and hit the open road while it was still dark and quiet.

The kids were quick to get comfy in the spacious seats and sleep for the first few hours of the trip.  The middle row of seats reclined for additional comfort and there was plenty of leg room.  Independent rear seat air conditioning let the kids in the back alter the temperature in their space.


The Hyundai iMax CRDi has a diesel engine which offers amazing power as well as fuel efficiency.  With a van loaded up to capacity with passengers and luggage I expected sluggish performance, particularly on inclines, however, this couldn’t have been further from the truth.  The iMax travelled effortlessly and smoothly the whole way.  Up hills, the diesel engine powered away at speed without the need to go down a gear!  I was very impressed.

Diesel has become a popular option for many reasons, but mainly for its fuel efficiency. The distance from Sydney to the Gold Coast is approximately 1,000km. The iMax has a 75 litre fuel tank and does about 8.5 litres/100km. The price for diesel per litre at this time was $1.25 so the total price for the trip up was roughly around $110.00.

Diesel cars chug like small trucks when you’re idle but once in motion the iMax travels smoothly and quietly. The iMax definitely doesn’t handle like a truck either.  Reverse parking large cars is a little scary, however, with Rear Park Assist, Power Steering and decent sized mirrors, parking was a breeze.

Other additional stand out features of the iMax include cup holders galore (good sized ones too), practical storage compartments such as over head for sunglasses and dual glove compartment.  Sliding doors on both sides, 6-speaker CD/MP3 audio system and interior lights everywhere (even on the driver and passenger vanity mirrors). All this luxury encased in a sleek exterior available in four stylish colours, grey titanium, sleek silver, blue diamond and ceramic white.

Overall, it was very easy to see how the iMax Turbo Diesel Manual rose above the likes of Honda Odyssey Luxury, Mitsubishi Grandis VR-X and Toyota Tarago to take out Australia’s Best People Mover in 2008 (and 2009). http://www.australiasbestcars.com.au and at only around $46,220 drive away it also wins my vote on true value for money.

HOLIDAY ‘MUST HAVE’ :  The Schneider roof mounted DVD player.  It doesn’t come standard but is truly worth installing for peace and quiet from bored passengers in the back. It includes two infrared wireless headphones and is Playstation compatible.

Enjoy the Christmas & Summer holidays and drive safely!

*Hyundai iMax CRDi courtesy of  Paul Wakeling Hyundai Mill Rd Campbelltown – 02 46 28 1444

What to do if you accidentally hit an animal with your car

Keep your furry loved ones from becoming an animal collision statistic

I’ve lost count of amount of times I have nearly hit a cat or dog driving around suburban streets.  Each time, I feel an overwhelming relief that I haven’t killed someone’s beloved pet, but I often wonder what I would do if I found myself in that situation.  At this high rate of near misses, I figure a collision with an animal is, sadly, almost inevitable.

A research paper by AAMI and Lori Smith Animal Hospital (January 2009), highlights some interesting facts about domestic animal car collisions.

In a sample of 2,503 drivers, half of the respondents had hit an animal with a car.  32 per cent had hit a dog while 23 percent had hit a cat.

Only a third of animals involved in car collision survived.  More dogs (70 percent) were seen for treatment as they were more likely to survive the impact due to their size.

The report also revealed that over 60 to 70 percent of the animals presented at the Animal Hospital were not de-sexed which made them more likely to roam the streets.  A lot of these animals were also lost or stray with no owners.

So, what do you do if you accidentally hit an animal on the road?

  • Firstly, and most importantly, consider your own safety. Pull over to the kerb, park the car in a safe spot and put your hazard lights on.
  • Take a deep breath and compose yourself before leaving the car. Stressing out in front of an injured animal could make its condition worse.
  • Approach the animal with caution.  If the animal is still alive and injured it will be frightened and may bite or scratch you.
  • If the animal is dead, move it to the side of the road when it is safe for you to do so.  Call the police to inform them of the situation. They can arrange removal of the animal.
  • Avoid picking up an injured animal.  Keep it warm with a jacket or blanket and try to keep it calm but don’t feed it.
  • Contact the local veterinary hospital or police as soon as possible and stay with the animal until help arrives if you feel safe to do so.  You may feel safer waiting in your car with the doors locked if it is dark and isolated.
  • If there has been damage to your car, contact the police within 24 hours to file an accident report and contact your insurance company as soon as possible.

Be alert and drive carefully around suburban streets at night.  Cats and dogs often dart out from behind parked cars leaving you little time to stop or avoid hitting them.

Also, remember to keep your own pets safely in your yard or indoors to avoid them becoming another sad animal collision statistic.

Important numbers to keep in your mobile or in the glovebox:

RSPCA :

NSW:      02 9770 7555

VIC:        03 9224 2222

QLD:       07 3426 9999

SA:          08 8231 6931

WA:        08 9209 9300

ACT:       02 6287 8100

NT:          08 8984 3795

TAS:        03 6332 8200

WIRES (for native animals) :

1300 0WIRES ( 1300 094 737)

Australian Learner Driver Test iPhone App – A Review

A teenager’s dream of getting their Learner Licence is also every parent’s nightmare.  There are driving hours to be logged and heart attacks to endure in the passenger seat.  But first, there’s a test to pass.

So how do you get your teenager to study the rules of the road when they are busy juggling school, part time jobs and social lives?  I came across the Australian Learners Driving Test iPhone App and forked out $3.99 to check it out.

Firstly, although the app name says “Australian” it appears to be based on the NSW Road User’s Handbook. It must also be noted that the RTA does not endorse this app.  Those wishing to get their Learner’s Drivers licence in NSW must still read the Road User’s Handbook and take the Drivers Knowledge Test (DKT) in person at their local RTA.  (Bookings can be made online.

What the Australian Learners Driving Test iPhone App does do, however, is allow pre-Learners to practice answering questions in a test-like environment anywhere they go.  Kids can conveniently practice while waiting at the bus-stop, watching TV or during lunch breaks at school and work. (provided they have an iPhone or iTouch of course).

Responding to a need for the 'i-gen' driver to learn road rules interactively

The Australian Learners Driving Test app has tests ranging from 5-100 questions depending on how much time you have and selects questions randomly so no two tests are the same.  Questions are set in a multiple choice format with three possible answers.  Errors and the correct result are displayed before moving on to the next question.  At the end of the test your result is displayed and questions from that test are listed highlighting which ones were answered correctly and incorrectly.  The layout is basic, clean and easy to understand.

Reviews for the app are not all favourable with claims of grammatical errors, wrong  answers  and bugs in the previous version.  I didn’t encounter any bugs with the current version and although I did find the phrasing of some questions a little odd, overall I thought the app would be helpful for a digital generation to use in conjunction with the Road User’s Handbook.

The actual idea for the app is a good one but I have a problem with the developer’s very misleading claim that the app offers “No Chance of Failing- Guaranteed!”

Personally, I would rather see the Road Transport Authority develop a similar app that guarantees all questions and answers will be up to date and correct and make it available to download FREE of charge.

10 Things That Drive Me to Insanity On the Road

Here’s a list of what makes me put on my cranky pants in traffic:

1. Drivers who don’t indicate:

I’ve often wondered if Volvos actually have indicators at all or whether their drivers are simply so confident in the safety of their cars that they don’t care either way about preventing collisions.  Until cars allow us to read the minds of other drivers, all we have is that little lever on the right (or left in Euro cars) to help communicate the fact that we want to turn…USE IT!!!

Note: I actually know some very nice Volvo drivers, so please don’t slap me with your driving gloves!

2. Bullies who won’t let you merge

They can be seen in your rear view mirror smirking while you’re using hand gestures to plead with them to let you merge.  These drivers, often in larger vehicles, are the bullies of the road and have real issues that can only be fixed with a good slapping.  The best you can do is hope Karma will catch up with them later and pray that the driver behind him is more generous.

3.  Parents who smoke in cars with child passengers

These people are clearly so self-centred they couldn’t even give a toss about their own young.  Even though laws have been introduced against smoking in cars with children, these drivers ignore them to satisfy their own selfish habit and are happy to tell the world, and their children, to go to hell.

4. Lunatics who speed in 40K School Zones

Everyone else has slowed to 40K but these idiots decide to speed on, weaving in and out of lanes, risking the lives of children, only to be joined by the rest of us at the next set of lights.  Slap, slap, slap!!

5.  Doof Doof Drivers

Have you ever been waiting at the lights and felt your car jumping and windows vibrating because the P-Plater next to you is aiming to get industrial deafness?  He doesn’t need a slapping cause he’ll be wearing hearing aids to his 21st birthday party, that’s punishment enough.

6. Swirvers

These drivers are all over the shop, running over lines, narrowly missing other cars.  It’s clear that they are either drunk, high or using hand-held mobile phones.  Funnily enough, a lot of these drivers also display P-Plates.

7. Parked Drivers who Don’t look before opening their car doors into traffic

Our necks are amazing things – they allows us to move our heads from left to right.  Seriously, how much effort does it take to look before swinging your car door wide open into traffic?

8. Parents who stick prams into traffic while waiting to cross the road

Pedestrians are not exempt from my wrath.  Yes, you may be a safe distance away watching traffic while waiting to cross a busy street – BUT YOUR CHILD’S PRAM IS ON THE ROAD!

9. Smokey cars

Quick, close your windows and turn your air con to recycle – it’s another defective car spilling its guts all over the place.

10. They’re never around when you need them

My top peeve is that there’s not enough Police around to book all the above!  How satisfying is it though, when you do actually get to see an idiot getting pulled over!!  – Karma’s a bitch.