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Monday, November 28, 2022

Earl & Nancy Drive AUTONOMOUSLY

When Nancy and I got into our Tesla S Plaid last Saturday morning to drive to our weekly radio show, Earl on Cars, there was a message on the large display screen of our Tesla Plaid advising us that Tesla had activated their Full Self Driving Beta on our vehicle. We’d signed up for this beta program when we first bought our Tesla and they monitored the safety of our driving, but we never attained the perfect score of “100” that Tesla required…we were stuck at 99. Fortunately, they relaxed their requirements with their newer software, and we’re now approved for Tesla Full Self Driving (FSD)!
We didn’t turn on the Full Self Driving right away. We decided to carefully study the directions. We read the directions and watched the videos from Tesla and other sources. Saturday, in the later afternoon, we decided to “take the plunge” and let our Tesla Plaid (aka “Miss Nancy”, Tesla asks you to name your car) drive us to our car dealership, Earl Stewart Toyota, in North Palm Beach from our home in Jupiter, about 10 miles away. From our dealership, “Miss Nancy” drove us to the Publix supermarket in Tequesta, FL, about 12 miles. After that, Miss Nancy took us back to our home in Jupiter, FL. The traffic was heavy on Saturday afternoon, which you’d expect in South Florida on Thanksgiving weekend. Yesterday, Sunday, Miss Nancy took us to the Promenade Shopping Center in Palm Beach Gardens from our home, about 15 miles. From there she drove us home. Later, she drove us to a restaurant named Spotos in Palm Beach Cardens, FL, about 15 miles and back home again. The traffic on Sunday was also quite heavy.
So, how did we feel about sitting in a car and having the car drive us around for a hundred miles over two days in heavy traffic? Our emotions ranged all over the human spectrum of feelings…exhilaration, fear, anger, disappointment, satisfaction, confusion, frustration, and happiness. Nancy and I took turns sitting in the "driver’s" seat. The duty of this person is to tell “Miss Nancy” where to drive us, “Take us to Publix in Tequesta, Florida”, click on the blue FSD (Full Self Driving) icon, and then remain alert with both hands on the steering wheel (shaped like a yoke on the Tesla Plaid) and, most importantly, be prepared to immediately disengage the self-driving mode in case of a failure. This is done by stepping on the brake or turning the steering wheel.
We learned quickly that Tesla’s Full Self Driving hasn’t been perfected. Here are a few of the glitches that we’ve observed in 2 days of autonomous driving: (1) The navigation system got the address for Earl Stewart Toyota wrong and tried to drive us to Lake Worth, FL instead of North Palm Beach. I had to disengage FSD and program in the correct address. (2) FSD got “Miss Nancy” stuck in the far-right lane at a stoplight intersection with her left turn signal on. The traffic was heavy and there was no way she would ever have safely crossed over 3 lanes to make a left turn. Again, I had to disengage the FSD and manually drive to a safe location for “Miss Nancy” to take over again. (3) We all know we’re supposed to “slow down” when there’s a yellow caution light, like those out-front of fire stations. We also know that most people ignore these. “Miss Nancy” doesn’t ignore caution lights and slows down considerably. This caused us to be almost hit from behind by a speeder, following too close, who doesn’t slow down for caution lights. (4) When “Miss Nancy” must pull out into several lanes of busy traffic from a side street, she makes many, rapid partial turns in the steering wheel/yoke before and during the drive out of the side street. I’m guessing that this is necessary to fine tune the exact millisecond to accelerate out into heavy traffic. The problem with this for the passenger in the driver’s seat is that she or he must keep both hands on the steering wheel/yoke (If Tesla detects you don’t; your self-driving privileges are revoked). When the FSD turns the wheel/yoke quickly, it also turns if forcibly…such that it’s hard to hold onto; also, if you hold on so tight as to impede the turn, FSD disengages, and the car just sits there, maybe in the middle of the street! (5) Heavy road construction with lots of cones and blocked or rerouted lanes confuse “Miss Nancy”. There’s an area like this near our home and it confuses me and Nancy and also “Miss Nancy”. Yesterday, “Miss Nancy” put us in the wrong lane in this construction area and, again, I had to disengage FSD.
You might be thinking, “how in the world can you and Nancy even “think about” using the FSD autonomous feature again!’ As we learn these things about “Miss Nancy” we’re able to correct and accommodate her and not be shocked, stunned, and surprised. Also, I believe that “Miss Nancy” is learning more about us through AI, artificial intelligence. We’ve noticed that since the first caution light incident when we were almost rear-ended, she hasn’t braked as much at caution lights. Computers with AI, learn from their mistakes (I wish we could say that about all humans).
In summary, Nancy and I are very happy with our full self-driving Tesla Plaid. We’re lucky and privileged to experience this amazing technology. I’ll be 82 next month and Nancy will be 80. We can now feel fairly confident that we’ll be driving in our own personal cars for as long as we live. Fifteen years ago, I wrote a blog entitled, Don’t Take Away Grandma and Grandpa’s Freedom Machine. This is the link to that column This article discusses how important a person’s automobile is to her or him, especially in states like Florida where mass transportation is quite limited. As an automobile dealer for 54 years, I’ve talked with lots of families faced with taking away their mother or father’s car because they felt they were too old to drive. It always brought tears to my eyes. Now thanks to the amazing worldwide knowledge explosion and tech revolution, no one will lose their personal transportation due to age or incapacity.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Earl’s Pocket Guide To Buying or Leasing a Car


(1) Choose the right vehicle for you, utilizing Consumer Reports, the most reliable, accurate, and totally unbiased source of auto quality, reliability, safety, and value.

(2) Shop ONLINE for the lowest, honest price. Communication by phone and text are also useful. The lowest, honest price (aka out-the-door price) is the amount you can write your check for, present it to the dealer, and drive your car home. DO NOT VISIT A DEALERSHIP for any reason other than test driving the vehicle you have decided to buy or to pick up and pay for the vehicle you’ve chosen. When you physically enter a car dealership, you relinquish your control to the car salesman. You’re playing on his home turf, playing all by yourself against him and his highly trained, team.

(3) Shop as many dealerships as you can. Shopping online allows you the time to get the lowest price from, literally, dozens of dealerships, instead of maybe 3 or 4 if you had to physically visit each one. THE MORE PRICES YOU GET, THE LOWER THE PRICE YOU WILL PAY.

(4) BEWARE OF THIRD-PARTY AUTO BUYING SOURCES, like Car Guru, Auto Trader, and These three, and most others, allow their dealers to add thousands of dollars in hidden fees to the prices they post. Three exceptions are Costco, TrueCar, and Consumer Reports.

(5) If you finance your purchase, arrange that directly with your bank or credit union, preferably your credit union. If the company you work for doesn’t have a credit union, there are numerous credit unions you can join, independent of where you work.

Monday, November 07, 2022

Florida Car Dealers Rejoice! Ashley Moody Reelected Fla A.G. in Landslide!

For the record, I know election day is (was) Tuesday, November 8, 2022, but I’m writing this article the day before. You can verify this by clicking on, my blog, and verify it was written on November 7, 2022. No, I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do know that money wins elections, and the Florida Auto Dealers Association (FADA), and their members gave Ashley, ALL THE MONEY!
Last week Jeff Weinsier, investigative reporter for WPLG, TV Channel 10, Ft. Lauderdale/Miami called me to “brag” that he’d FINALLY “corralled” Ashley Moody for an interview. She’d been deliberately avoiding him for months because she knew of his investigation exposing fraud by many South Florida car dealers and even some auto manufacturer leasing subsidiaries. These dealers and manufacturers were violating the 1976 Consumer Leasing Actwhich requires lessors to honor the lessee’s option to purchase their lease car at a predetermined price upon the expiration of the lease. (In all fairness to Ashley, she was only one year old when the 1976 Consumer Leasing Act was passed.)

Jeff told me that he was able to “slip up on her” while she was campaigning In Broward and Dade counties last week. When he asked her why she’d done NOTHING in her entire 4-year term as Florida AG to reign in rowdy car dealers preying on Florida car buyers, she said that she had an just begun an investigation, but couldn’t comment while the cases were under investigation. Shortly after their brief interview, WPLG investigative reporter, Jeff Weinsier, was verbally accosted by Ashely Moody’s press agent… How dare he accuse the Attorney General of being “soft” on car dealers breaking the law!

With midterm election propaganda peaking today, Monday, October 7, I don’t need to explain to you how many misleading, manipulative political advertisements have flooded the airwaves and cyberspace this year. Virtually none of them is honest, on either side of the political aisle. I dare you to show me one political ad from a Democrat or a Republican than can stand up to a fact check. It’s almost childish in the way political ads pander to voters’ lack of knowledge and prejudices. To me the most obvious is politicians always featuring ugly, stupid, and mean looking photographs of their opponents in their own political ads.
Did you know that the Federal Trade Commission, FTC, regulates COMMERCIAL advertisements, but it does NOT regulate political ads? The FTC does not regulate political ads, and spin in a political ad does fall under the First Amendment. Simply put, truth in advertising laws don’t apply to political ads, and bending the truth is protected by free speech.
You’ve probably heard the quote attributed to the infamous Nazi propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, “Repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” I can see how this can be true, especially if our law protects lies by politicians under our Constitution’s freedom of speech. The final “nail in the coffin of truth” is our laws also permitting unlimited spending on political campaigns. It’s a fact that the candidate with the most money contributed to her campaign wins. Jeff Weinsier discovered that 81 Florida car dealers gave Ashley Moody $161,000 and this is just “the tip of the iceberg”. That doesn’t include contributions by family members of car dealers or PAC’s (political action committees) contributions by dealer national, state, and local associations…NADA, FADA, SFADTA, Tampa Dealer Association, Jacksonville Dealer Association, etc. etc.
Sadly, the bottom line is that Ashley Moody wouldn’t have been elected without the financial support of Florida car dealers and you don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
Ashley, Florida car buyers and I are begging you to “make a liar out of me”.