Tag Archives: car lift

Five Pros and Cons of Self-Driving Vehicles

Is a self-driving car going to see your 67 Vette?

Will a self-driving car see your 67 Vette?

The future is now— or at least very, very near! Self-driving cars sound like an invention out of a science fiction movie, but they are in fact much closer to becoming a reality than you might think. Google, for example, has been working on an autonomous car project since 2009, and its driverless vehicles have clocked over 1.7 million miles on the road. Popular auto manufacturer Ford aims to mass-produce self-driving cars by 2021. What was once a futuristic fantasy is becoming more of a possibility with each passing year.

But are self-driving vehicles a good thing or a bad thing? While there is no certain consensus about the use of driverless cars, there are a number of arguments both for and against putting them on the roads en masse. Here are just a few of the many pros and cons of self-driving vehicles.

Self-driving Pros:

  1. No danger of human error. By running through complicated algorithms that determine stopping distance, distance from another vehicle, and other important vehicle operations, self-driving cars virtually eliminate the dangers of driving. Each year in the U.S., 5.5 million car crashes occur, resulting in 88 deaths per day. Eighty-one percent of those crashes are attributed to human error, a leading cause of which is simply distraction. Cars driven by computers, which don’t get distracted, would drastically lower the dangers presented by human drivers.
  1. Less congestion. With self-driving cars producing far less accidents, congestion on commutes could potentially be greatly lessened. In addition to less accidents clogging the roadway, all driverless vehicles would possess the ability to communicate with one another through signals, which would eliminate the need for traffic lights and frequent stops. A more synchronized driving pattern means getting to destinations faster, with less traffic headaches!
  1. Big savings for businesses. Without the need for human drivers, businesses could potentially save billions of dollars using self-driving vehicles. Because driving and speed are regulated by a computer, driverless cars— especially trucks used to transport products across the miles— will operate at their top fuel efficiency. Not only that, but driverless cars won’t need to stop for eating, sleeping, and other necessities like a human driver would, saving businesses both money and time. It’s been estimated that if only 20% of vehicles were driverless, it would result in an economic savings of $109.7 billion dollars, and in 724 million gallons of fuel savings!
  1. Better parking possibilities. Parking seems to be a problem almost any place where there are cars and people. Especially in very populated cities, the cost of parking can be exorbitant, not to mention the upkeep necessary to maintain multiple parking garage facilities and parking meters. With the help of self-driving cars, you’d no longer have to contend with parking woes; your car would drop you off at a location, and then find itself a parking spot farther away. With cars that can drive themselves until they find available parking spaces, less garage space would be needed to accommodate vehicles. Then when you’re ready to leave, your car would come right to you!
  1. More free time for humans. Think about how many minutes a day or hours per week you spend commuting to work, running errands, or otherwise traveling. Now imagine all the things you could do if even half that time was available to do as you pleased! Without the need for people to drive themselves, the time they spend in cars can now be spent on more valuable or leisurely activities like reading, watching movies, or finishing paperwork. And since driverless cars should theoretically get you to your destination faster, you also spend less time in the car each day, giving you more time for life off of the highway.

The Cons:

  1. Very expensive. Self-driving cars will require a lot more technology in order to function properly. While they sound like an awesome feat of vehicle innovation, that innovation comes with a high price tag. With the software, sensors, engineering, and computer function necessary to make a car self-driving, the current cost estimate to purchase one is over $100,000!
  1. Huge loss of jobs for drivers. In America alone, putting driverless cars on the road would mean the loss of over 5 million jobs. While businesses may see higher profits because they no longer need to employ human drivers, those drivers, making up 3% of the workforce, could fall on hard times with the loss of work. Drivers of trucks, taxis, public buses, vans, limousines, Uber, and more would see their jobs in jeopardy with the introduction of driverless vehicles.
  1. Implosion of insurance companies. While other businesses may see more money and higher savings using self-driving vehicles, one industry that would take a hit is the car insurance industry. With less risk of accidents and human error, insurance premiums would be significantly reduced— which is great for consumers but terrible for insurance companies. The personal insurance sector is estimated to shrink down by 60% of its current size within 25 years of self-driving cars hitting the market, meaning more huge job loss.
  1. Unknown fault in event of an accident. Another issue insurance companies would need to contend with is determining fault in the event of an accident. Though self-driving car accidents should be rare occurrences, even the best technology can still fail. Should an accident arise, the question becomes, who is at fault? Do you blame the car manufacturer, the owner of the car, the computer programmer, or some other party? While fault would most likely come to rest on the manufacturer, accident fault is still a gray area when it comes to driverless vehicles.
  1. Weather concerns. While driverless cars will be highly intelligent machines, one concern they may not be able to account for is adverse weather conditions. Because self-driving cars will rely on sensors to do much of their driving, they’ll be alerted to slow down in bad weather. However, if bad weather— whether heavy snow, hail, or even rain— knocks out a car’s sensors, there is currently no failsafe to prevent an accident in the face of technology failing. In addition, if a road is covered in snow, or visibility is reduced for some other reason, a self-driving car won’t be as readily able to detect its position on the roadway, resulting in a driving hazard. Bad weather conditions are one flaw in the autonomous car industry that still needs to be resolved.

Whether you hold with the pros or with the cons, it’s clear that self-driving cars are going to be a revolutionary auto development, in one way or another. What do you think about the future possibility of driverless vehicles?

Treat Yourself

Now that your Christmas shopping is done, it’s time to get yourself something nice

If you’re like most of our customers, you’ve just spent a lot of effort and money buying nice things for everyone but yourself. We have no doubt that you’re great at playing Santa, but now it’s time to think about getting yourself something nice, something that will make it easier to work on your hobby, take care of the family car, or keep your garage organized this winter.

Since you’re on our site, you can probably guess what we’re about to suggest: This winter, make your life better with a Backyard Buddy lift.

For hobbyists, a Backyard Buddy lift is a great way to remove some of the less-than-enjoyable parts of working on your vehicle. You can trade in laying on a cold garage floor and hoping your jack stand holds up while you work on the underside of your vehicle for sitting or standing while you work. You’ll never want to use a creeper again once you’ve installed an exhaust system while sitting on a stool, or replaced your brakes at eye level.

If you live in a snowy climate like we do, a Backyard Buddy lift can help keep you out of the freezing slush and cold water that comes in with your car any time you need to make a repair to your daily driver. Just put it on the lift and let the snow drip off at your feet. No more soaked-through back and knees while working.

Even if you’re not planning to work on your car in the winter, a Backyard Buddy lift can make your life easier. Our vehicle lifts can help you get back valuable real estate in your garage, and are safe enough for you to lift your vehicle out of the way and put mowers, bikes, snow blowers, garden supplies, and other garage clutter under all winter long. Drive up onto your lift, lift your vehicle to the ceiling, and enjoy brand new floor space.

We also have a special boat lift that is specifically designed to accommodate most 102 inch boat trailers. Your boat can spend the winter on the lift and your car can have some garage space back to keep it out of the snow. We also offer a solid deck for our 7,000 pound capacity lifts so that you can store ATVs, jet skis, snowmobiles, lawn tractors, or other mid-sized items on our lifts.

Backyard Buddy also offers a variety of lift accessories to make your life even easier. Our caster set allows you to move our lifts around, even with a vehicle on them. Combine our casters with our crane accessory and you can pick up and drop engines into your vehicle, move heavy objects around your garage, and even pull a body off of a frame for painting or body work. Our hydraulic jacks allow you to raise the front or rear of your vehicle off of the lift with the flip of a switch so that you can comfortably work on your wheels or brakes. If you’d rather use your own jack, our jack platforms easily roll along the length of the lift and support any kind of jack (including our two-ton air jack).

Now that your Christmas shopping is done, it’s time to get yourself something nice. Give us a call at (800) 837-9353 any time between 8:00 and 4:30 EST, and we will help you customize a gift to yourself that will make you happy for years.  Merry Christmas!

Said it before; Say it again – Buy American!

As the Presidential campaign heats up, one thing that has been refreshing to hear is both candidates talking about the need for more American jobs, especially in manufacturing. Even Walmart, probably the country’s largest purveyor of foreign-made products, is running an ad talking about their commitment to buying American-made products.

Of course, where the politicians get it wrong is that they think only they have the answer, with some grand plan for bringing jobs back to the USA. While we’re all waiting for those campaign promises to come true, every one of us has a way to bring back good American jobs:

Buy American. Create more jobs

It’s a simple as that. The more American-made products each one of us buys, the stronger our country and its economy will be.

You don’t need to make a radical commitment to only buy American products (and some things, like electronics, are almost impossible to buy from American manufacturers). All you need to do is to get in the habit of checking labels to see where whatever you need is made, and you’ll be surprised what you can find that is still made in the USA.

Lots of clothing, household goods, tools, and other consumer goods are still made right here. If you’re shopping for something a bit bigger and durable, like appliances, machinery, or a car, your odds of finding something made in the USA are even better.

When you vote with your wallet and buy American products, you’re helping your country by keeping our manufacturing capacity strong, helping your countrymen by ensuring that they have good jobs, and helping yourself by buying a superior product.

Right now, American manufacturers that make non-consumer goods and components are thriving because business customers can’t afford to risk buying a cheap foreign product that is likely to break or be out of spec in the first place. Why should consumers settle for any less?

Here at Backyard Buddy, we are proud to be part of our country’s manufacturing base. Our American workers use American steel to produce a high-quality product that our foreign competitors can’t touch, right in the heart of America’s manufacturing belt. Obviously, we’d like you to buy one of our lifts, but our constant refrain of “Buy American” goes way beyond that. Even if you never have any intention of buying one of our lifts, we implore you to buy as many American-made products as you can.

Just like it’s your patriotic duty to vote this November, it’s also your patriotic duty to vote with your wallet in November and all year — Be American. Buy American.
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Our Hometown – Warren, Ohio

If you have read more than a couple of our blogs, you know that Backyard Buddy is extremely proud to be a manufacturer of American products made by American workers. You probably won’t be surprised that we’re not only proud of our country, we are all so proud of our city: Warren, Ohio.

Warren is a small city of 41,000 residents in Northeast Ohio, about an hour east of Cleveland, and has a proud industrial history. It was the first city to have electric street lights, thanks to the Packard Electric Company, which also spawned Packard automobiles, one the first major automobile manufacturers in America (our facility is just down the street from their original factory). As its industrial might grew, the city also made steel for thousands of American products for most of the 20th century.

Unfortunately, like so many small industrial cities in the Great Lakes, Warren fell on hard times when the American steel industry collapsed in the face of cheap, foreign steel in the 1970s and 80s. Good jobs became scarce, and many residents either left the city to find their fortune elsewhere, or struggled to find new jobs in the Warren area.

One of the things that we are most proud of at Backyard Buddy is that we’ve worked for almost three decades to stop these losses. We make a quality product using American steel and American workers, making us almost alone in a sea of foreign junk.

Today, Warren is home to many small and midsized businesses like ours, including AVI Foodsystems, a national-level food service and hospitality provider. The National Packard Museum downtown celebrates the city’s important place in the history of the automobile, with more than 30 historic cars, and an archive that is the envy of any Packard enthusiast. For those looking for wings instead of wheels, the Ernie Hall Aviation Museum showcases planes and artifacts from the early days of flight.

Warren has a lively arts scene as well. The city’s Packard Music Hall brings in national acts (did we mention that Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame was born here?), touring theatre productions, and classical and modern performances from Warren Civic Music. If you’d rather hear your music under the stars, the Riverwalk Amphitheatre features a rock and pop concert series every summer. Downtown, the Trumbull art gallery has rotating exhibits of local and national artists.

Warren also has lots to offer outdoor enthusiasts. Mosquito Lake State Park (don’t worry, it’s just a name) is about 15 minutes north of downtown Warren and offers boating, fishing, swimming, camping, and hiking. There are also several public hunting areas less than a half hour drive away.

We should also mention that our showroom is another local attraction where you can check out our impressive quality and features firsthand and talk to our knowledgeable staff. We invite you to come see our products and then spend a day or two taking in all Warren has to offer.

Your Guide to American-Made Products Online

We proudly proclaim that Backyard Buddy is an American company, using American steel and American workers.

For years, you also know we’ve been helping to promote other companies that can also stake that claim.  Given the state of our economy and the high unemployment rates, it’s crucial that we all make a conscious effort to search out American-made products.  We want every American to know that they have the power to fix the economy, provide jobs for themselves and their neighbors, and to increase the quality of the products they buy.  Vote with your wallets and purchase high quality, American-made products – Be American, Buy American!  There are many online resources for shopping “Made in the USA” products so we’ve gathered a few here for you to peruse:

Made in America Store

This is an excellent source for a huge assortment of merchandise, including clothing and accessories; groceries; toys and games; hardware; stationery; and outdoor, home and pet products.  The site offers free shipping on orders $100 and over.  And be sure to check out there amazing “American dream,” comeback story – “The Beginning, The Crisis, The Opportunity, and the Future.”
http://www.madeinamericastore.com/

USAonly.US
This site is all about “Gettin’ America Back in Business” by asking Americans to commit again to buying products from our neighbors.  There are 24 product categories, and it’s easy to search alphabetically for the nearly 1,300 businesses listed under company bios, with a link to each of those sites.  Mark Reasbeck, founder and patriot, said it is his hope that the site “will link consumers and manufacturers arm-in-arm across the country.”   
http://www.usaonly.us/

AmericansWorking.com
This site was created to provide consumers with an easy to use and highly accessible means of finding products made in America, which strives to “help keep good jobs here.”  Want to keep your dollars in your home state?  This site also features American-made product directory by state, so you can support your closet neighbors.   (We’re happy to plug that Backyard Buddy is listed on this site.)
http://americansworking.com/

Made In USA!
This website is a product search engine and database for those looking for products made in the United States.  Companies can add their “Made in the USA” listing for free.   The MadeInUSA! organization behind the site is dedicated to bringing jobs and prosperity back to the United States of America.
http://www.madeinusa.org/

Toys Made in America
Here’s a fun site – for the kid in you!   In all seriousness, this site was launched in 2007 (after so many China-made toys were recalled) to provide a listing of safer, American-made toys and products.   There’s a variety of merchandise, listed alphabetically and by toy companies.
http://toysmadeinamerica.com/

Trump is the Answer

If you’ve followed Backyard Buddy, you know our strong position on cheap, imported steel; especially steel coming from China.  No cheap, foreign import steel used in our lifts like with so many of our competitors.

Foreign steel, produced with minimal regard for quality or worker safety has flooded the worldwide market, putting thousands of Americans out of work. Cheap, imported steel is not only a bad product, it’s bad for our country.  It’s time we stand up to China…and there’s only ONE person willing to fight for American businesses and workers – Donald J. Trump!

In short, his plan “is a negotiating strategy to bring fairness to our trade with China.”  Trump supports threatening China with a significant tariff on its exports.  To fully understand his position on US-China trade reform, visit his site, https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/us-china-trade-reform.

As Americans, we have an incredibly important decision to make concerning the future of our nation. For so many reasons, this country needs a strong business and world leader, not another Washington insider, status-quo, establishment politician.  Trump is the answer.

The “establishment” certainly doesn’t like him because he’s different, and frankly, that’s a good thing.  He’s not reliant on donors so no one “owns” him.  And let’s face it, Trump says what most people are thinking; he’s just not afraid to say it.  What’s wrong with encouraging his fellow Americans to boldly stand up for their beliefs about what’s best for our nation?  He’s given us our voice again!

“Make America Great Again!”  Vote for Trump!

A Visit to the National Packard Museum

You’re probably not surprised that most of us here at Backyard Buddy love cars, trucks, motorcycles, and just about anything else you can think of with an engine and wheels (and we’re not even all that strict about it having wheels). If you’ve read our site, you also know that we’re proud to be an American company that makes American products with American workers right here in Warren, Ohio.

What you may not know is that we’re not the first automotive enthusiasts to open a factory on Dana Street in Warren. All the way back in 1899, two brothers who had been manufacturing incandescent bulbs for a few years, James and William Packard (if you’re a car guy, you already know where we’re going with this), started to manufacture high-quality automobiles in a factory just down the street from where we are today. Packard Motor Car Company was one of the first American luxury car manufacturers, and before joining most of the auto industry in moving to Detroit in 1906, built its first few model years right here in Warren.

Within its first decade, Packard became the standard in American luxury, and was known for its sleek designs, powerful engines, and high-end features like air conditioning. Perhaps reflecting the company’s early history, the cars’ electrical system was so highly-regarded that Packard’s wire and lighting business was sold to General Motors and produced automotive bulbs and electrical components in Warren for decades.

Never a community to shy away from its industrial roots, Warren now celebrates Packard’s history through the National Packard Museum, located in downtown Warren, about a mile from our headquarters and the original Packard plant.

Located at 1899 Mahoning Avenue, the National Packard Museum is open from noon until 5:00 Tuesday through Saturday, and 1:00 until 5:00 on Sunday. As you might expect, the museum features plenty of Packards, with more than 30 cars spanning the first production car in 1900 to a 1956 Packard Caribbean that marks the last of the “true” Packards (its last model years offered re-badged Studebakers). The museum also features Packard memorabilia, items from the electrical division, and an archives featuring original catalogs, sales items, and other documents.

In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum also features temporary and traveling exhibits. We love the current exhibit “What’s in Your Barn,” featuring 30 “barn find” motorcycles from 1939 to 1983. What’s really cool about this exhibit is that some of the bikes have been restored to showcase the hard work that it takes to turn “before” into “after,” but some of the bikes have been left unrestored (though cobwebs and mice have been removed, we think) and are in the sometimes-beautiful condition in which they were found.

If you’ve been thinking about coming to check out the Backyard Buddy showroom and need a little something extra to entice you, why not come see us and then visit the Packard Museum? We’re just a little over a mile apart, and will even give you the inside scoop about where to stop for lunch. For more details on the museum, go to http://www.packardmuseum.org/

Jay Leno’s Impressive Collection

It probably comes as no surprise that most of the staff at Backyard Buddy loves cars—especially rare, unusual, and collectable ones—so we wanted to take an opportunity to talk about one of the best-known collections out there.

Jay Leno, most famous for hosting The Tonight Show, is almost as famous for his love of cars. At last count, he has put together a collection of roughly 150 cars and more than 90 motorcycles, although like most dedicated collectors, he is always buying and selling, so the numbers change on a regular basis.

Jay isn’t happy to simply amass a collection of cars, and has become one of the most recognized faces of the hobby. His NBC show Jay’s Garage showcases some of his more unusual cars, and his regular Popular Mechanics column (http://www.popularmechanics.com/jay-lenos-garage/) provides a glimpse into some of the challenges he faces maintaining and restoring some of the most unique vehicles ever made.

Jay has an affinity for unusual vehicles, and unlike many collectors, refuses to focus on one type or era of car or motorcycle. Some of our favorite vehicles in his collection include:

•    1926-27 Duesenberg Model X: Jay worked for nearly 20 years to find this rare piece of early American muscle, one of just 13 produced. Like so many collectors do, he heard rumors that a local car guy had “something interesting” in his garage, and after a 20 year friendship, he finally found the Duesenberg when the man’s family invited him to look in the garage after the collector moved to a retirement home.
•    1916 Owen Magnetic: One of the more unusual cars in Jay’s collection is this century-old hybrid. Early automakers experimented with using gasoline engines as generators to power electric motors to actually spin the wheels to get around the complexities of getting rotational power from the engine to the wheels. The Owen exemplified this concept, using an electromagnetic transmission to remove the complex geared transmission from the drivetrain and keeping no mechanical linkage between the engine and the wheels. The design failed in its time, but the hybrid concept is alive and well a century later.
•    1909 Baker Electric: This is another car that shows just how many different ideas were tried before we settled on the gas engine for nearly a century. At the time, electric cars like the Baker were considered cleaner and easier to drive and maintain, and were recommended for the ladies of high society to drive to do their social appointments and shopping, since they involved no smoke, gasoline, or gears full of grease. This one is even dearer to us, since it was made just up the road in Cleveland.
•    1963 Chrysler Turbine Concept Car: Continuing his collection’s theme of alternative power plants, Jay’s got one of the last remaining Chrysler turbine cars. As you may have gathered from the name, this car uses a turbine engine instead of a traditional piston engine, a perfect idea for a country moving into the jet and atomic age in the early 60s. So why did a jet powered car never take off? Mostly because it could run on just about any fuel except the leaded gas that was available at every service station in America.
•    1936 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead: We’ve got to admit that as much as we love cars, there’s nothing quite like a classic Harley. This bike is another great collector story. When Jay got the bike, it was in great shape, but hadn’t been ridden since 1952. Figuring it would need some restoration work, he set it aside to work on other projects. When he finally got around to evaluating it for restoration, he was surprised when he added some gas, kicked the starter, and it started right up! He changed the tires, did some basic maintenance, and rides it entirely unrestored today.

We’re happy that Jay Leno is providing a good home to all of these unique pieces of America’s transportation history, but we’re even happier that he is a great ambassador for auto and motorcycle collectors everywhere, and shares his knowledge and enthusiasm with anyone who watches his show, reads his articles, or is lucky enough to talk to him in person. If you’re working on starting your own collection and want a way to make maintenance, restoration, and storage easier, give us a call at (800) 837-9353 to learn more about our lifts!

10 Commandments for Car Collectors

As those of you who have called us or come to visit the shop know, one of the best things about Backyard Buddy is that you can always talk to a real person to answer your questions and help you find what you need. We take customer service very seriously, but being real people we also like to have some fun! In that spirit, we offer you 10 Commandments for the car collector, paraphrased from a posting on our wall at the factory.  Follow these free bits of hidden wisdom, and enjoy a long and prosperous life of car collecting!

Thou shalt not store thy cars out of doors, even under a cover.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s car, nor his garage, nor his battery charger.
Thou shalt not love thy cars more than thy wife and children; more than other family members is acceptable.
Thou shalt not read thy car magazines on company time, lest thy employer render it impossible for thee to continue the car payments.
Thou shalt not despise thy neighbor’s Edsel, nor his DeSoto, nor even his 1947 Plymouth.
Thou shalt not use to hold or store thy cars any item made of such cheap, low-quality parts that thou wouldst never dream of putting them into the car.
Thou shalt not deceive thy wife into thinking thou art taking her for a romantic Sunday drive when indeed thou art going out to look at another car.
Thou shalt not tell thy spouse the entire cost of thy latest restoration when she is holding anything heavy or sharp.
Thou shalt not promise thy wife a new addition to the house and then use it to store cars; additionally, thou shalt not store cars in the attic.
Thou shalt not buy thy wife a floor jack for Christmas—even from Backyard Buddy!

The Power of Referrals

Think for a moment about how you discovered your favorite restaurant. Though a few of us may be the adventurous type who see a place pop up and immediately go to try it, the rest of us probably check out a new place because someone we trust recommends it to us.  That’s a very simple example, but restaurants, especially ones that don’t belong to huge chains, are prime examples of businesses that thrive because of referrals and satisfied customers.

If you were wondering how all this relates to car lifts, no, Backyard Buddy is not starting a restaurant. We are, however, a member of that group of businesses that run on the power of referrals.  Our customers are so excited about our products that they can hardly help telling their friends about the rugged craftsmanship, highest-quality materials, and personal service Backyard Buddy always provides. They trust us enough to send their friends to us, and we consider that the highest praise we can be given.

Referrals are even more important for everyone in an industry like ours. For restaurants, the customer’s stakes are lower—if you go to one you don’t really care for, all you’re out is a few extra bucks you would have spent anyway, and the new experience and time with friends usually makes up for it.  But with an important investment like a car or truck lift (which itself protects the even more important investments you’ve made in your vehicles), you simply do not have time to try out one you don’t like or one that isn’t strong enough to get the job done. The cost is just too high.

That’s why our customers recommend Backyard Buddy lifts and accessories so consistently.  There is no better way to save your friends time, money and worry than by introducing them to the products you trust on a day-to-day basis. Not only is it a service to your friends, it’s the best way you can show a business your appreciation for their quality product or service: help them provide that same product or service to someone else!

So as we start the new year, everyone at Backyard Buddy says thank you to all of you who have helped grow our business with the power of your referrals.  We wholeheartedly appreciate it, and look forward to serving you and your friends for many years to come!