Why Are Power Windows Allowed?

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It’s surprising the government hasn’t made power seats – and windows – illegal. Well, at least not yet. After all, they are arguably at least as “unsafe” as not wearing a seat belt.

Maybe it will occur to someone. Give it time.

The argument for requiring the use of seat belts is that you might be thrown about or even ejected from the vehicle in the event of a crash. But you might also drive off the road, into a pond. It’s certainly possible. And if your car has power windows, you will be trapped inside because power windows don’t work under water.

This is very unsafe – at least potentially. Just as potentially, arguably, as not wearing a seat belt, given what might happen.

Why are power windows allowed, given that fact?

And the same goes for power seats. These have the potential to stop working at any moment – as is the case with any man-made device. Defects happen. Wear and tear is inevitable. And when a power seat stops working, there is no mandatory manual over-ride to allow the seat to move. The seat will remain in the position it was in when the motor stopped working. It might be a very unsafe position, such as too far forward or too far back. Surely this risk is intolerable. Consider the children.

At the least, shouldn’t power seats should be required to have some sort of break-away mechanism in the event the electric motor stops working? On the same principle that all cars are required to have lock releases inside the trunk?

These, incidentally, must glow, too.

And why are some cars – most cars – allowed to operate on public roads without high-capacity brakes? Were you aware that is still legal to sell cars – and trucks! – that have drum brakes? Isn’t that the functional equivalent, in terms of the risk, of allowing a child to ride up front, unbuckled – and not strapped in a “safety” seat?

A car with disc/drum brakes takes much longer to stop. A heavy truck even longer. Surely that is unacceptably unsafe? Again, shouldn’t we be thinking about the children? Shouldn’t all new cars be required to have at least four wheel disc brakes, just as they are required to have back-up cameras and at least two air bags, back-up cameras and so on?

How come it’s illegal in many states to text while driving, yet almost every new car comes with a big touchscreen loaded with distracting apps built right into the dashboard? (GM announced recently that you will be able to order coffee and so on via the touchscreen in many of its newest cars.)

Why are motorcycles – and scooters and mopeds and for that matter, bicycles – permitted at all? By any objective “safety” metric, they are exceptionally not-safe. They offer virtually zero occupant protection, lack seat belts and almost all of them haven’t got air bags. Bicycles often can’t even maintain the minimum speed on the road – yet are allowed on the road.


Why are they allowed – and meanwhile, the occupant of a 5,000 lb. SUV, swaddled in government-mandated crush zones and a roof that will support the weight of the vehicle if it turns upside down, surrounded by a plethora of air bags is subject to being ticketed made to pay an obnoxious fine for failing to wear a seat belt . . . ?

The point here is that vehicle “safety” – as mandated by the government – is as erratic and arbitrary as pretty much everything else the government mandates, from tax exemptions for some things (but not others) to the criminalization of certain intoxicants while others are quite legal.

This is the natural result of the fact that government is just other people – not some omniscient Oz whose infallibility must never be questioned. These other people – the ones behind the curtain – don’t have perfect knowledge (far from it) and have their own opinions about pretty much everything, just as we all do.

The difference, of course, is that the people who are the government are invested with the power to enforce their opinions and impose their value judgments on the rest of us. Thus, we are forced to wear seat belts – but allowed to have power windows and seats that might not operate in an emergency. Air bags that could – and sometimes do – kill are required because they might reduce injuries or possibly save our lives if we crash.

But it’s okay – legal – to drive a car with brakes vastly inferior in terms of their ability to stop the car in an emergency than the brakes which could have been installed in that car. And one can ride a 200 MPH-capable motorcycle – wearing a T shirt and shorts – provided one has a helmet on.

The whole thing makes about as much sense – morally as well as logically – as the laws which empower a cop who has a case of beer in his truck to toss a guy in jail for having a bag of pot in his glovebox.

But then, morality and logic are not the strong suits of those busybodies behind the curtain, who are the government.

. . .

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  1. Nunzio,
    Are you unaware that the braking system on tractor-trailers were adopted from those on trains?
    Not only do big trucks use that system, but large motorhomes as well.

    • Nottatall, Bill…. But the point was: It would be pretty clunky, and take a lot of the fun out of driving in your Prius or BMW braked like that. (Although, from the way ya see people driving, I get the idea that many people think that semi’s can brake just like cars- as they shoe-horn their car into the little slot between a stopping semi and the car in front of it…..as you’ve no doubt probably experienced many times).

      • It would be impractical in a vehicle where a limited hydraulic system is. The reason why trains and trucks use air brakes is because it is easier to build air pressure than it is to maintain it, given leaks. What is interesting is that those who adopted the air-applied brakes for trucks didn’t adopt the spring-applied parking brakes used on trains, until decades later. necessitating the change of the entire system on trucks when they came to their senses. I remember my extreme confusion when learning about this at trucking school because it was poorly taught by an instructor who didn’t take his student’s ignorance into account. That made me a better instructor later, when I would explain that trucks have two separate braking systems, which operate in opposite ways. I saw a lot of lights go on.

  2. I rather miss the hand-crank windows. It was so much easier to “crack” your window.
    My cars, current and the one I just traded, had a feature that allowed you to lightly tap the button and the window would go all the way down automatically. Maybe this is for a water landing? Some other safety feature or just convenience? My older Mustang would roll the window back up with just a tap, as well, which I really did like and find personally convenient. But my new one won’t do that.
    I had my dad riding in the passenger seat one day and he wanted to crack the window so he could smoke. It was giving him fits because he couldn’t get it to just open a couple of inches. It kept going all the way down and blowing rain in on him. I was enjoying the cussing, but ultimately, I had to crack the window for him. It takes just the right timing of the finger tap to crack the window a little bit vs. the one-nanosecond shorter tap to trigger the automatic roll down, a skill I mastered when I owned the car. Modern life is so idiotic sometimes.

    • It sounds like you could have used the now absent owners manual to explain the over-engineered window operation. I would have left the window up and turned on the vent fan to drive the smoke out, if I was willing to let him stink up my vehicle, which I wouldn’t be, being a former smoker who didn’t smoke and drive. Modern life falls the hardest on those who insist on modernity in their lives.

  3. It still boggles my mind as an (older millennial) that I rode in the front seat of my dads 92′ F150 at 6 years old and now this is illegal in nearly every state to do so. And children have to sit in an embarrassing baby seat till some government mandated weight and height is achieved.

    • I fell out of my dads 1971 pickup when I was seven. ON THE FREEWAY. No ideas what possessed me to play with the door handles while going down the freeway.

      • Yikes! Good thing kids are pliable and resilliant. (Oh…wait…according to the overlords, they’re delicate and fragile, dontchaknow!).

        That’s the thing too- this safety BS is backfiring, because you NEED some experiences when young to teach you the reality of danger and pain and consequences. If you never burn your hand on a hot stove, you’ll never respect the potential dangers of a stove, until you DO experience that burn…but the longer you go without experiencing it, the more careless you become, because “You’ve done it 1000 times before, and what could go wrong?”!

        These kids today are growing up having been so coddled and protected, that they have no idea of the reality of physical harm, until they are old enough to try things out when fully grown, and in more dangerous situations- where there is a lot more to lose, and the potential consequences are much greater- So they grow up feeling invincible, and even craving the excitement of danger….but haven’t had any real exposure to even the basic consequences of risk- so they take risks gung-ho….without the sense to moderate their conduct or at least a working knowledge of physics…and then they get seriously hurt or hurt someone else, over something which would have been a non issue to any of us who were raised in the real world back in the day.

        • If I had the name of the truck driver that blocked the freeway to keep me from getting run over, I would send him a thank you card every year.

  4. Since all things mechanical wear out, when they are required to be tested and inspected, it is to be repeated periodically. So too are drivers to be inspected whenever they come under the gaze of an officer. Since incompetent driving is becoming more common and competent policing less so, eventually we will be living in a society where just being alive will become a common cause of death.

    • Johnny, I think you are right. An example of that in health care is the “Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments,” CLIA, that have essentially put lab testing out of reach for the typical small clinic. Requirements of lab personnel to oversee testing have moved lab testing to the dedicated lab companies. Some of those tests are automated, and much simpler than what I did in undergraduate chemistry class. So now when the lab is closed, I cannot do them. It has harmed patient care, while locking up lots of work for companies like Labcorp and Quest.

      • There are other BIG companies that can compete in such an atmosphere. VW, Toyota…etc. The laws are put in place to help those already in the game. A small company might be able to make a car comparable to a early 90s Toyota and start to build. But because every new car needs 186 air bags and a mandatory back-up camera, little guys can’t put all that into a new car so are left out.

        • I’ve been eagerly awaiting an open source ECM/Linux car to come off the line that can be programmed to perform how the driver wants and not have all the Windows like spyware in it. There are some do it yourself programs on GIThub for this that I’ve looked into. Hopefully it goes mainstream where the average joe can program his own car with his own interchangeable after market hardware not from UNCLE.

          • Better yet, just drive an older car that doesn’t run on computers….where WE make our own decisions based on our own perceptions and desires.

  5. Eric,

    Hopefully your article will snap somebody out of it. I have two Benchmade window punch/seat belt cutter combo tools in my car. In Iraq, there were a few enough stories of peoples’ vehicles getting hit, and then them not being able to get out of their seat belts. They burned alive in their seats. They then started issuing seat belt cutters.

    And about going in the water. I have this friend in the Swiss Army. We think alike in many ways, especially in the area of preparedness. One day I showed up at his house and he was looking in my car. He asked me, “Are those swim fins under your driver’s seat?” I replied, “Yeah. If I go in the water, I’m getting out of this death trap! Got a seat belt cutter w/punch, and also got a set of swim goggles in the glove compartment.” He just smiled and was like, “I didn’t think about that.” I now also have an inflatable life jacket around my headrests.

    • Thanks, Frenchy – I hope so!

      Many years ago, I read an article by Leonard Read along the same lines; it affected me greatly. It changed my mind – or set me on the path to a new way of thinking.

      If my ravings cause even one person to have a change of mind, then I’ll rest easy in the knowledge it was worth the effort.

  6. Wonderful! Too many ideas; too little time.

    I have come to dislike those electric windows. I had one that the motor gave out at the 3/4 mark, and went to get it repaired. The repair lasted for all of 35 days (just after the dealer’s 30-day warranty period ran out) and $800 later, and it still doesn’t work right. Mighty fine for the winter driving. Actually, I was able to force it up to the fully-closed position and tape it shut.

    The pathetic thing about bureaucrats is that they think saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafe-ty first, but never consider the costs of compliance in their calculations, since they never pay the bill directly. I would prefer that they would just stop thinking. Along with everyone else in government.

    Then they wouldn’t be able to dream up new rules and restrictions.

    • Hi Travis,

      Mencken – one of my favorite writers – referred to these people (with extreme contempt) as “uplifters.” They are the intellectual descendants of the New England Puritans, who always knew best – and intended to make sure you abided by it. For your own good, of course.

      I’ve become crankier as I get older. I now favor physical response (in kind) to uplifters of all descriptions. A punch in the mouth being a good start; more as necessary.

      • Better off avoiding the teeth, because of the infection to your hand that could result. As a doctor, I recommend a hook to the ear, with an open palm, or a closed fist to the epigastrium (solar plexus). Just ask Gentleman Jim Corbett how devastating that shot can be.

  7. To get around the power window problem, government should mandate that we all carry guns when we drive, so we can shoot out the windows if we drive into a lake. They also need to mandate earplugs, so we can hear again after shooting that gun inside of our cars.

  8. In the past, when I could, I ordered vehicles without power windows – example my ’78 Camaro Z28. I then installed a power widow kit, for convenience, on the passenger side only. Many junk power window kits out there, the one that was well designed is from Spal Automotive (Italy).

    This window system – manual/power, at one time, was standard on Mercedes.

    • Holy crud, LibertyX! Us Pasta e fagiolis [“pasta-fazoo’s”] actually made something automotive-related that actually works?! That’s a first!

      • Oh, the ancient and venerable (and VERY FAST Alfa Romeo GTA was something from the land of tomatoes and zucchini and pasta that WORKED very well. Wish I could have bought one back when a commoner could afford it.

        • Tionico,

          But was it one of those deals where it worked great when it was working….which was maybe every second Tuesday of months that contained the letter R? 😉

  9. I test-drove an old 67 GMC pick’em-up a few years ago which had all drum brakes. Yikes! All drums were before my time. I realized, just by the feel of them on empty rural roads, that I would NOT be a good candidate to drive such a vehicle in town!

    All of my current vehicles have 4 wheel discs (and have for some time) and in the past I had disc/drums, and have thus been dumbed down/deprived of acquiring the necessary skill set to cope with an unresponsive vehicle.

    I mean, after being used to good brakes…it’s SCARY how bad 4-wheel drums are! Then again, back when that was the norm -all there was- people didn’t drive like they do today. I remember as a kid in the late 60’s and early 70’s, traffic was a lot more spread out- everyone wasn’t up each other’s asses….and cars had real bumpers, so if ya hit someone in heavy stop-N-go traffic, you didn’t cause any damage to either vehicle- as opposed to the multi-thousand dollar event you’d cause today!

    Discs all around is probably the ONE thing I like about modern vehicles!

    • I recall the intro of the 71 GM pickups was a hype of front disc brakes and a redesigned front end for the 4WD model that made the body closer to the ground without sacrificing ground clearance. You could get them with a flip-up center seat cushion covering a built in cooler, maybe the best thing ever designed into a vehicle of any sort. A decade later I designed and built maybe the only feature that bested the cooler, the false bottom console/door through the floor. Need I say more?

    • I don’t mind rear drums but it’s not like I practice threshold braking on anything other than snow/ice covered roads (I’m more partial to threshold acceleration). As long as it stops in a straight line I am good. Nicest thing about disc brakes is the ease of changing them out (except for the rears on my ’87 Z28).
      Worst thing ever is an abs unit that thinks a washboard road is ice and won’t let you stop the vehicle…

    • I’ve had two four wheel drum cars. I modern traffic it’s pretty scary now because people are such morons.

      When they are perfect they can work well enough, well well enough when other cars weren’t light years better, but as the car drifts from perfect it can get scary.

      • Exactly, Brent. When everyone had drums, people would observe safe following distances. Today, if you try to leave a little space, that space gets filled in. I don’t know how truck drivers manage!

    • soetime for a rush try pushing hard in a Morris Minor that’s had a Sprite 1275 B engine dropped in inlcuding the twin SU carburetters…… or a Frog Eyed Sprite with the stock 948 cc engine taken out to stage three………. both fitted microscopic drum brakes all round. Engine braking was an absolute life or death MUST.

    • The biggest disadvantage to drum brakes is their inability to dissipate heat. This doesn’t matter for one-time braking but is a problem for quick repeat braking. Otherwise, and I’m open to contrary empirical evidence, proper drum brakes (don’t compare a 1948 Plymouth to a 2015 Chevy, for example) can be almost as good as disc. Modernized drum brakes would compare well with disc brakes, for one braking anyway.

      NB: I’m not talking about the six-piston disc brakes on rotors big enough to be used as serving platters for a large family, but run-of-the-mill discs vs. the same in drums.

      Some motorcycles used to have four-leading-shoe front drum brakes, which gave the rider tremendous leverage and enormous stopping power. But they suffered the same heat problems their lesser drum brake siblings did. Point is, powerful stopping ability was available in drum brakes, but why bother.

      So I don’t think drum brakes on cars, particularly the later models right before discs became popular, were somehow inadequate or scary. Just as tests show that engines with point ignitions produce more power than those with HEI, contrary to popular myth.

      Can’t find any direct evidence on the Net comparing stopping distances of 4 drum brake cars to 4 disc brake cars, but there is this semi truck comparison: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v57K1WW41K8 Interestingly, some of the standard drum brake trucks stopped almost as well as the fancy-pants Bendix air disc trucks, although a difference of a few feet can admittedly make a big difference.

      • Ross, I dunno about the data, but I can tell you one thing:

        Drum brakes operate by expanding the shoes against the inner surface of the drum; and only one of the two shoes at each wheel is on the forward side of the axle, where it does the most good.

        Discs, by comparison, clamp the rotor solidly between the pads (Which is more forceful, and more responsive, than just expanding shoes outward
        against a drum; AND, with this arrangement, ALL of the stopping force is on the forward side of the wheel, where the stopping force is more effective.

        Drums can just never have the same force and response as discs can. I prefer old vehicles and old technology….but disc brakes were probably the single best improvement made to the automobile since it’s inception. We take them for granted now….but if you ever have the opportunity to drive an old car with all drums- which IIRC was most cars manufactured prior to 1972 (Although some came with front discs as an option- which were a night and day difference over the all drums) you’d soon see the difference- and I’m not just talking about in an emergency situation. But after being used to modern brakes, cars with all drums just seem to meander to a stop.

        • Oh, and if ya really want an experience, try driving an all-drum car, without power brakes! Might as well not even have brakes!

            • The main problem with a lot of old cars is not that the brakes are drums per se, but that the brakes were undersized. (Some had tiny 9″ drums just a couple of inches wide.)

              A properly sized and adjusted drum brake system will perform quite well. However they are subject to brake fade under heavy use, water retention, and adjustment problems.

              I remember years ago being driven in a friend’s circa 1960 Plymouth when he ran through a big puddle of water. He had to blow his horn and run through a red light when the brakes wouldn’t work! (Once water gets inside the drum it takes a while to drain out.) Also if the brakes get out of adjustment you can get some pretty significant instability during a hard stop. Driving down the side of a mountain? Better use engine braking, those drums will cook!

              So yes, drums can certainly work well, but for my money discs are the better way to go. They’re also a heck of a lot easier to work on.

              • One of the first odors that new truck drivers develop is the smell of hot brakes, so that their failure won’t be a complete surprise, if they don’t take the appropriate action. The guy that invented the Jacob engine brake should have received a Nobel prize for safety.

              • Oh, I forgot to mention, as far as only one brake shoe being on the forward part of the brake I think what you’re really talking about is the primary and secondary shoe when a single wheel cylinder is employed.

                That is the way that most drum brake systems work, however a number of manufacturers used dual wheel cylinders in various models so both shoes are leading shoes. This enhances brake performance in the forward direction since both shoes will “self-energize” due to the wedging action of pushing into the rotating drum.


                • Ah, you’re right Jason, about primary and secondary shoes….. I don’t think I ever had a vehicle with more than one wheel cylinder on each wheel- so yeah, the front facing shoes were always the bigger ones….now I remember (Just glad I don’t have to mess with them anymore!)

              • I don’t know what motorcycle companies did to solve the problem, but many early bikes with front discs also had a problem stopping in the rain. It was SOP to drag the front disc brake a little when it was wet when you knew you’d have to stop soon.

                Discs are easier to work on, but in my limited experience with old vehicles they’re a damn sight more prone to freezing up too.

                • Yes, it doesn’t take much to make those slides on the calipers sticky. But conversely, unlike a wheel cylinder, I’ve never seen a caliper leak.

          • Try stopping a car or motorcycle with disc brakes and no hydraulic assist or vacuum boost. You might as well throw out an anchor.

            • That has not been my experience. I used to have a Hornet with manual front discs (came from factory with no power boost) and it stopped just fine, though pedal pressure required was a little higher than the same car with drums. So it’s something that can work OK on a smaller car. (Though I wouldn’t want to try stopping something full-sized with discs and no power assist.)

              • The ’72 Beetle has manual drums all around; it stops… adequately. The key thing is it requires the driver to drive. It does not indulge the inattentive and lazy driver.

              • The Norton motorcycle company experimented briefly with solely mechanical disc braking. You couldn’t summon enough forearm squeeze to get the bike to stop and the company quickly gave the idea up.

                • Hi Ross,

                  My Kaw S1 triple originally had leading edge drum brakes – and while I am far from a saaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety Nazi, that was a bit not enough, even for me and even on a 250 cc machine!

                  I added a disc set up from an S3 400.

                  It still doesn’t stop spectacularly. But it does stop.

            • I had occasion back in the day when I first got my lic., to drive a Mercury Zephyr (Merc. version of the dreaded Ford Fairmont) once, and it had manual disc/drum…. WORST brakes I have ever experienced! And the damn car was practically new. I still remember driving it that one time, just because the brakes were so crappy, and required herculean force!

        • I never had all 4 discs brake for 47 years until I finally bought a new Nissan frontier. and I say the brakes are horrible. My work truck a 69 GMC dually stops way better with front disc and rear drum brakes. when I first drove the Nissan I thought I would go thru the windshield when I stepped on the brakes being I had discs in the rear. not the case. then when I would get in my work truck and use the brakes I could not believe how with all the weight it stopped better. and that truck had the useless diesel set up for no vacuum but it was a gas motor. instead of vacuum it worked off the power steering pump

          • The brakes on these late model cars feel like crap- even if they are 4-wheel disc. It’s the stupid ABS and all that crap. The problem lies mainly in the master cylinder. Kinda negates the advantages of discs.

            You compare something like a 90’s/early 00’s Ford Superduty to an old all-drum truck though….night and day!

            • I used to run my regal gs at the drag strip with the traction control disabled by pulling the fuse. One side effect is that it would also disable the abs system.
              First time I was on a break out run (too far out in front) and got into the brakes med/hard the ass end of the car locks up and it starts to come around on me.
              Makes me wonder if they put much thought into the brakes at all or if it was just assumed the abs would take care of it. Also makes me wonder how many other cars are on the road with half assed brake setups that are dependent on the abs to work right.

        • Four-wheel disc brakes were actually tried out fairly early in the U.S. The 1949 Crosley came with aircraft-type Goodyear-Hawley Hydra-Disc brakes.

          The problem was that those early disc brakes could not tolerate road salt in the winter which was just coming into use at that time. So all the Crosley cars in the salt belt that were equipped with disc brakes had their brakes corrode and lock up in short order. (The company went back to drums in 1950 because of this.)

          (Chrysler also introduced what they called a “disc brake” for the Imperial in 1949, but it was not a caliper and rotor type setup like modern brakes – it was more like a clutch pack working inside a brake drum.)

          I do hate working on drum brakes. Wrestling with brake springs, cables, and levers is not my idea of a good time. Fortunately my ancient ride has discs on the front.

        • Yes, Nunzio, Jason is correct. There is nothing inherently wrong about the geometry of the drum brake, in fact just the single-servo action you describe is much stronger than the disc brake. The braking is more exponential than linear feel of the disc breaks, this contributes the misunderstanding of drum brakes. If drum brake was not so powerful it would not be on all the big trucks. The problems with drum brakes are 1. brake fade when they get hot 2. brakes not installed properly with auto-adjuster not working/and or not manually adjusted frequently 3.the water problem Jason mentioned. Have you noticed how wheel diameter on 3/4 and 1 ton trucks are huge these days? That’s because it takes a much larger disc brake to provide the same power as a drum brake.

          • If the braking system is so powerful on big trucks, why are they still building truck runaway ramps? This happened on I-70 west of Denver only after a flatlander ran over a car and killed its three occupants.
            I came down that very same hill at the automotive speed limit in a fully loaded truck without touching the “powerful” braking system by using the 425 HP engine brake. I was followed down that hill by a Colorado state trouper who was waiting for my brake lights to come on to take me to jail. Instead, he got off and went back up the hill at Colfax, before I went back to using the “powerful” brakes.

            • Because of brake fade and general failures.
              Drums are “self energizing” which makes them powerful but they don’t give up heat easily.

              • In what way are drums or discs ‘self energizing’?
                If you are talking about spring brakes, nothing rolls until the pot is energized with air.
                Neither gives up heat any easier than the other, standing still without a breeze.

                  • I recall watching a show on TV a couple of decades ago that had a scene on it with a camera pointed at a disk brake on a race car on a track. When the brakes were applied, the rotor would turn cherry red almost instantly. When the brakes were released, the disk cooled visually cooled down from being red hot almost immediately. The disks have air channels which aide its cooling dramatically compared to the massive by comparison solid brake drums.

                    • Hi Brian,

                      The only gripe I’ve got with disc brakes is that they are more susceptible to being damaged by garage apes with air guns!

                    • eric, you can do damage to drums too as I once did.

                      A wet spell in west Tx. is rare and wonderful and we had started into a good one(they’re all good)so I was swapping my AT’s for pure mud tires on another set of wheels. Neither set was factory and didn’t contact the drums in the same spot. I’m just spinning the nuts up tight before I use my torque wrench and they just kept being loose so I went around a couple more times and they finally tightened. I get in the pickup to leave and it won’t move, a bad sign.

                      I jacked it up again and took the wheels off. They broke the drums and locked the axles by force. I took a drum and went to the wreck yard and got two more, almost new. It was time to rethink those wheels with the drums. The front discs never had that problem. I’m guessing I’m not the only one to experience that with aftermarket wheels.

                      As for drum brakes, my old Chevelle had 4 of them. I’d be doing 150 and slam on the brakes and be pushing on a dead pedal by 120. Those were the days.

                  • I can’t believe this is even a topic of discussion! People call me a Luddite because I generally prefer older tech…but even I recognize the superiority of discs.

                    Calipers are much more robust than wheel cylinders. Rotors are usually a lot cheaper drums. I’ve never had a rotor not want to come off….but I’ve sure had a few drums that were stuck. Discs allow an easy visual inspection of both the rotor and the pads….drums: You have to pull the wheels and the drums to see. Discs offer much better control/modulation.

                    I’ve NEVER encountered a leaky caliper. I have encountered plenty of leaky wheel cylinders [Not my own].

                    Discs require virtually no user input to remain in perfect operating condition for the life of the pads. Drums? Pffft….better keep those puppies perfectly adjusted or they REALLY suck!

                    Discs are self-cleaning. Drums? Pulling a drum is like opening a mummy’s tomb…ya never know what you’re gonna find…but it’s gonna be messy….brake dust; dirt; rust; all waiting inside for you, and all creating a special little Hell for your brakes to operate in!

                    There’s no downside to discs for cars and light trucks. They’re better in EVERY way.

                    • I’ve had calipers stick but not leak. Well I take that back the cross over line rusted out on one of the brembo calipers. It’s part of the caliper but its technically just a brake line with ISO flares and fittings.

                    • Definitly, I would never want drums on any of my cars or light trucks. They are a pain. I just wanted to point out a few common misconceptions like “drum brakes are not powerful enough”

                    • We have to be careful with our terminology when talking about brakes. Brakes on a train are certainly powerful, but would we want the same kind of brakes on our cars? LOL….imagine? Pull the handle and release air, and before the brakes even kick in, we’re up the backside of the car in front of us… 😉

                    • Not to mention that discs are exposed to the air and the breeze, and have little obstruction in the way of blocking the escape of heat; while the friction surfaces in drums are not at all exposed to the air, and between being encased in circular shell whose end is sealed on one side by it’s own face, plus the wheel- and on the opposite side by the backing plate…the heat has virtually nowhere to go.

                    • Many disk designs have internal cooling passages. Some are solid but they are usually small rear brake applications.

          • Darn! Maybe we can go back to four-wheel drums……

            Who needs all the modulation and responsiveness?

            Thank goodness they finally started putting huge wheels on picj-ups, only 20 years after 4-wheel discs became the norm.

      • Yes – AND disc brakes are only about a jillion times easier to maintain. Disc = 20 minute brake job. Drums = … much harder. Especially if the little springs go flying off into the yard.

    • Yeah, it’s just amazing how us old farts survived those days – ha!

      Front disks are fine (a great GM innovation in 1971) but rear drums are okay considering they don’t do much share of the work anyway (except on a loaded truck).

      I can tell you that the drum brakes on a 2-ton are better than the disk brakes on a half-ton (wink!)

      • Aside from Crosley’s abortive effort, Studebaker offered discs way ahead of GM. Any Studebaker could be ordered with front discs starting in 1963.

        • Disk brakes are now available on all axles for commercial vehicles. Unfortunately they are very expensive and less durable, aside from having less fading than drums.

      • GM went to disc brakes on their heavier pickups for a couple years then back to drums and finally back to discs. The main problem with the first rear discs were not enough swept area so a one ton with 3.5″ X 13″ shoes stopped fine even if they were heavier(who cares?). Same thing with big rigs but now discs have come back but there’s 3 rotors and caliper sets per brake instead of a single or double.

      • Lots of claims as first. A lot may depend on wording and criteria like “standard” and “production” but my TR3-A was advertised as being the first production car with standard disc brakes. Initial production for the TR-3 was ’56. Front wheel discs only.

        I was packing the wheel bearings one day and a friend warned me about getting grease on the rotors. After reassembly, I smeared the rotor with grease and took him for a ride. Funny smell braking hard from 60, but not a hint that they weren’t working.

        • The British Lanchester appears to have been the very first in 1902 with what we would recognize today as a disc brake system.


          In the U.S. Crosley was the first, though unfortunately their system failed. Probably Studebaker was the first U.S. mainstream/volume manufacturer to offer front disc brakes as an option across the board, and they were standard on the Avanti. The 1965 Corvette and Rambler Marlin were the next U.S. models to make discs standard (4-wheel on the Corvette, front disc on the Marlin).

          I’m not sure when front discs became standard across the board in the U.S. I can remember cars with 4-wheel drums being sold well into the 1970s.

  10. The great thing about motorbikes, bicycle’s and even pedestrians getting hit by cars is that they can be used slyly in the seat belt statistics to boost the image of how many lives seat belts “saved” whenever the DOT’s and PD’s have a press release for their buckle up campaigns. They arrive at the statistics fed to the public only after including motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian fatalities. If they don’t include them, the statistics in many states work against them, or at the very least are far less convincing for seat belt safety.

    In the end, it’s about obedience to authority. Nothing more. Until–or if–the “authorities” find that power windows, drum brakes, and electric seats are an affront to their “authority”, the cattle may have them.

    • Don’t confuse Authority with Power.

      Authority is the natural right to do something, while Power is simply the ability to do it. Police, judges, military officers, whoever you want to list…

      None of them have Authority – merely Power.

      • sometime for a rush try pushing hard in a Morris Minor that’s had a Sprite 1275 B engine dropped in inlcuding the twin SU carburetters…… or a Frog Eyed Sprite with the stock 948 cc engine taken out to stage three………. both fitted microscopic drum brakes all round. Engine braking was an absolute life or death MUST.

    • I just tgot a ticket for “no” seat belt from a rotten parasite trooper. I had on a big parka with a giant hood with fur on the fringes and the seat belt under the hood and the hood against the post where the belt comes out of. he was a young punk shi t ting in his pants hiding by my back window with his gun and BP vest. all I saw was his hands. I only saw him in the side view mirror. he refused to look at the belt that was the same color as the jacket under the hood. he said I was behind you then I got on the side of you and didn’t see it and I got the ticket

      • Hi SPQR,

        This stuff makes me furious, even just hearing about it. The idea that we live i a “free” society” is risible, depressing that so many people still believe it.

        I wonder whether that “hero” eats his veggies? Exercises regularly? Practices “safe” sex?

        Rrrrr. I am feeling irritable today.

        • It is time that we start excepting police to behave in a manner appropriate to their occupation, and hiding from ones employer isn’t generally regarded as appropriate.

      • Newer big trucks have the seat belt in the seat, not really that grand of an idea but cars have gone that way too. The older style coming from the side of the cab have a stop you can use to get slack and not have it rubbing on you constantly since you’re constantly in motion in a big rig.

        A fellow driver had fallen and hurt his shoulder and had had an exception written by a doctor to allow him to keep his belt loose. He lost the card and a damned DOT stopped him and cited him for a too loose seat belt. Nothing he could say would sway the stupid shit. Power trip city for all those a-holes. Let me show you how bad I can fuck you around is their mindset and that’s just what they’ll do. If they stop you for one thing and it turns out they’re wrong they’ll just do a level 2 inspection and find something somewhere….eventually. I got cited for a loose steering part that was brand new and had just been installed and for brakes out of adjustment that were brand new. Even cited me for no DOT number on the cab although they were there in big black letters on a red Pete door.

        • I remember writing up an old beater of a former military water truck that had no identification on it of any kind. They were forced to put their DOT number on it because I put it on an inspection sheet as a defect.
          DOT inspectors are like any other bureaucrat, they get credit for every write-up they do, but they can be evasive when they want to. I had spent an entire day at a shoe warehouse on the east end of Fort Smith, Arkansas getting stuffed for a Walmart DC in California. Since I was only a couple of exits from a 76 Truck Stop and only 15 minutes over (after having caught up with 3 days of illegal running), I didn’t think twice about heading to a truckstop where I intended to spend the night.
          When I hit the scale, I was the only truck there. It was a single axle scale and he had me take my logbook in when my drivers were parked on it. When he weighted my trailer axles, he told me to park in the lot and bring in all my paperwork. He asked for my drivers license first. I had signed up with a prepaid legal outfit several years earlier, and although I was only a member for a quarter, I still had the membership card with “—” typed in the expiration space. I kept it behind my license and spun it off the top and handed it to him. He took a glance at the prepaid card and threw away the violation he had already started and wrote a warning. It took several years, but that prepaid card finally paid for itself.

      • Wouldn’t it be great if more people starting offing these bastards? No wonder they have to treat every grandmother as if she were a dangerous felon- because if they didn’t, how many people would stand for this shit?

        We need some James Bond type devices to start taking care of these cocksuckers, because they are never brought to justice, because they are paraded before us by our overlords as the agents of justice, while in fact, they are far worse than any common thief.

        This shit’s never gonna end, as long as their is “authority” and people who believe in it, and people who are willing to commit acts of aggression in service to the state. Hope Trump keeps provoking NK, Russia and China and they freaking nuke us- that is the only way this crap will end, and that some true justice will be meted out.

        • “Offing” That is EXACTLY what happens when the courts order the police to ignore the 4th Amendment. When the community sees the police as the enemy to America, the enemy to the Constitution, a direct threat to our safety and security, then they DO start shooting cops. (see blm etc…) The trick I’ve seen in other oppressive countries, is they give people just enough food, heat, wine, vodka etc… to keep them from rioting. They balance the oppression by mostly leaving people alone to limit the number of encounters between police and mundanes.

          • That’s why, Johnny, so many other places seem so much freer than America these days. -Not that they are inherently free- but just that they leave you alone to a greater degree.

            Only Americans have been so brainwashed to love their captors, and to think that they’re “keeping us safe” (And, apparently, we need to be kept safe from the guy growing the wrong plant in his basement; the guy not wearing his seatbelt; etc.) that cops can now get away with literal murder, every day- and juries just keep letting them go- and instead punish anyone who dares to maintain their own rights and dignity and safety.

            BLM doesn’t count. They’re just opportunists- and only care when it happens to one of their homies, and regardless of the circumstances. They are actually making things worse, because the average Joe will side with the pigs instead of them, because they’re not about justice.

            America is done. The people in South and Central America have more self respect, and won’t tolerate the BS that Americans do….but they’re being conned into socialism via the Catholic church and materialism. The overlords seem to have figured it out: Just promise people free shit….and even if it’s little more than a sack of rice and a can of beans, as long as the guy next to you doesn’t have more than you, greedy people will think it’s something great, and cast away every bit of their freedom and that of their children’s for it.

  11. Actually power windows generally will function for a time under water. The reason why the windows won’t lower is the same reason manual windows won’t, the pressure difference between the inside and outside of the car until the inside is flooded.

    • Yes, Mythbusters covered this on one of their shows.

      If really concerned about the possibility of being trapped this way, carry a ball-peen hammer in the car to smash the windows out.

    • One of the first things one should do after entering water capable of enveloping the vehicle is opening all the windows, so that the doors will not be trapped by the hydraulics of the water.

      • 3 am and all we can see around our house is water. Me and my best friend get into a pickup and start down the driveway. There was water running across it but no big deal thinks me until the pickup sank in 4 feet deep running water. We rolled the windows down and stayed put until the water was running through the cab, then got out and swam back to dry ground. It was one of those things that get your attention. I had to go underwater later that morning to wrap a chain around the winch mount so a big loader could lift it out of the water and that was another bad experience.

  12. There could have been some sort of federal law on braking disclosure once upon a time in 1970s. Tucked in owner’s manual of the 1975 Maverick I once had (but I still have the manual) is a tractor feed form printed out by computer with the car’s VIN showing the acceleration and braking performance of the car. The acceleration was termed in passing performance from 50mph to 80mph and 20mph to 35mph. It also has the tire sizes and loads. I’ve never seen anything like it included with any other car.

    • My side/back has been hurting for days now, due to work and weather(8 degrees this morning, still in the teens now). The big injury that caused it was in my SIL’s bathtub showering. It’s one of those tubs with a hell of a slope and for some reason, a feature I’d never seen before or since, an angle thing from the wall to the tub at the front. Every time I looked at it I wondered why somebody would design a killer tub. One morning taking a shower I reached out for a towel(no rack close, bad bathroom design), slipped and fell on that narrow thing that looked designed to break limbs or as in my case, ribs.

      One of my nephews slipped in that tub and was unconscious in it for a long time. Obviously that tub should have had an overhead belt for safety….or just been designed differently. Busybodies scream about seat belts but nobody screams about slick bathtubs with too much angle.

      Growing up we had no seat belts and people seemed to roll cars left and right back then as they do now. It was common to find someone smashed from being thrown out the window. A seat belt would have saved most every one of them from serious injury or at least death. Even when cars begin to have belts nobody used them so the trend continued but not with me. I’ve always been a proponent of using a seat belt but never required anyone with me to do so and don’t believe anyone has the right to mandate them. For some reason every time I put on a seat belt everyone else seemed to do so too…..go figure.

      Now trucks are a different animal and no study so far as shown wearing a seat belt in a big truck has any impact on keeping the driver safe. I’m not the only driver who throws the thing off at night when there’s no lights to give you away. When a driver has a bad wreck with his seat belt on and lives it’s always because of the seat belt and conversely if he dies and didn’t have a belt on it’s because he wasn’t belted. Then there’s the ones who die with a belt on and some a-hole DPS or cop says “just think how much less chance he’s have had without one” or some horseshit such as that.

      Having been run over from behind I credit not having a belt on with a reduced injury. The back of the cab slamming your head isn’t conducive to living. I have been injured by a lap belt in a 4 wheeler wreck. I won’t forget it since it reminds me on a fairly regular basis.

      Rollovers in big rigs are generally career enders even if you survive without bad injuries. You never bring up the subject if you want to drive again. The carrier won’t need a driver just then when you’re applying. Probably Swift(Sure wish I hada faster truck….or as I say “not so(swift)” when I pass one) would hire you or Werner since all you need is a heartbeat.

      • My old KW was buiot before seatbelts were put into trucks. Thus I was not requried to wear one. So I did not. Pondered it betimes, as an alternate to counting the dashed lines on the interstates. My conclusion? I figured it was about even up which way it might go… a head on, dead no matter what. SLide off the road in snow, or because of a steering tyre blowout, and roll onto the side, a tossup. deending on what I hit before the body formerly in motion came to rest. Hit from behind, hard, perhaps by another rig, I’d likely flop into the steering wheel if not belted, perhaps recover and do what I could to control the beast. Belted, maybe slammed face first into the wheel and badly hurt…..

        My final conclusion, my life was then, and is now, in God’s hands, and HE would do as He willed with me. Happens I never crashed…. in the rig, or anything else. So far…… two million and counting, maybe “my odds are diminishing”, maybe my track record will continue………

        But I could just as easily get smacked whilst out on my road bike (push bike, not moto), bu with somewhere above 200K on that on roads in several states, again, clean and safe. So far….

        • Tionico, that is why statistics really don’t tell us much- but thinking does. The same thinking helps to keep us out of accidents; whereas the same few less active thinkers tend to be the ones who get in multiple accidents….but the statistics they cause are imputed to “everyone” without discretion.

          When I think about friends and relatives, over the course of my entire life…..virtually none of them have ever been in an accident in my lifetime- including my 95 year-old aunt.

          But ONE person- a childhood neighbor, who remained a family friend until she died [not in an accident], used to get in accidents on a regular basis.

          So instead of [just for example- not an accurate statistic] 10 out of every hundred people being in an accident in a 10 year period; if one dissected the actual data, it would probably be something more like 3 out of every 100 hundred people will be in 3 accidents in a 10 year period (And the remainder of 1 is the poor schlepp whom they plow into! 😉 ).

          This is why your outlook is far superior, because it is based on reality and experience. Even if we disregard the issues of others to make idiotic rules which we must obey, it’s still a scary thing to think that any rule is based on a statistic; when statistics are largely meaningless in the real world.

          LOL…just made me think of that douchebag actress who, although perfectly healthy [physically, anyway] had her tits cut off to prevent the possibility of breast cancer! [Wonder in the dumb bitch’ll get a preventative hysterectomy too?]

        • I’ve seen a driver balled up in a barb wire/goat wire fence. I kinda doubt if he’d had his seat with him he’d have been better off. I’ll take my chances of being thrown out in a roll over. Other types of wrecks there’s no telling what will help you and what won’t. At least I did manage to get a seat belt loose when it was Volvo vs Northern Pacific. I was running as fast as my old fat ass would move toward the end of the trailer when the first car struck and was still running after that. I could tell the train was slowing by the frequency of the hits the truck was taking but I kept on running.

    • Hey RK, how about a roll cage, toilet meander sensors, and 3 observers to make sure people don’t get hurt using the toilet.

  13. When I bought our ’02 Miata I noticed the emergency handle in the trunk (ready, set, GLOW!) and asked the salesman about it. He said it was mandated in case I got stuck in the trunk. I told him I doubted I could pull the handle in that case. He asked why. I told him at 6′ 240 pounds I doubted I’d fit in the trunk without my arms and legs being remove…

    Perhaps I could clench it in my teeth.

  14. One of my favorite contradictions of the government overlords and her sycophants: you have the “right” to remove a baby from your womb even if the baby will die, but you can’t put whatever drugs or alcohol you want into that same body, much less have the freedom to choose whether to wear a seat belt or not.

    • and DON”T EVEN THINK about putting that baby, sopposing he survives until birth and beyond, into a regular seat on a car without using an approved, up to date, currently certified, size and age specific “Child Restraint System” mandated by da gummit everywhere. But, before she is born you CAN kill her….
      makes perfect sense. NOTTTTT!!!

      • A guy I used to know, who was my only real-life Libertarian friend, but who wasn’t the sharpest crayon in the box, once made a very astute observation:

        “How come the people who are for abortion, are always against the death penalty?”

  15. I hate power windows. My driver’s side window’s motor broke and it cost me almost $700 to get it repaired. Another thing I miss are those triangular shaped vent windows that you could use to flick your cigar ash.

      • I’ve only owned GM trucks and had one switch that went bad. OTOH, I had a 77 Silverado that had manual windows and regularly had regulator problems. A friend with a body shop stayed busy for years with the plastic drives and motors taking a dump on Ford pickups…..when he wasn’t fixing the cracked beds on them that prompted the headache rack makers to make really large feet.

        Always being a dog guy I had to have electric windows. Driving 40-60 mph (or more)down a dirt road you need to be able to adjust a window instantly when your pit bull spies a rabbit, coyote, bobcat, turkey….etc. etc. I learned quickly to use a heavy nylon harness and a big chain only long enough to let a dog get to the edge of the bed. It was much easier to keep them in the cab. The dirt devil factor makes them nearly mandatory too.

          • I’ve seen pitbulls that didn’t chase something that moved fast….and they were ambient temperature. I did see a video of a pitbull that wouldn’t chase something….till his owner opened the window or door. He was let loose on a mastiff whose owner let kill all the neighborhood dogs. He thought it quite funny when that little pit as he termed him slid under his mastiff and the mastiff appeared to him to be giving the old death shake to the “little pit”. He got concerned when he realized it wasn’t the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog and his mastiff was getting his clocked cleaned. The “little pit” owner removed his dog with a break stick(I keep one on every door and in every vehicle)and let the mastiff live. After that the mastiff owner kept his dog in the yard. Some people……

            This brings me back to the current police/lawyer state in which we now live….thanks a lot you goddamn Bush son of a bitch/Cheney cocksucker and all your wannabe badass war supporters. I used to leave a dog chained in the truck with windows down, radar detector on the dash, Hi Power’s right there on the seat, beer in the cooler, etc. Now I have blacked out windows and leave the pickup locked and running. No doubt some porker will take me to task for that some day…..probably my last.


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