Birthday gift: A new audio receiver for my car

Amy went to a local audio system installer and surprised me with a Pioneer DEH-X6600BT, along with an appointment.

My cassette tape adapter broke several years ago, and I didn’t want to deal with another FM transmitter. Those never worked well.

Of course, since my commute is super short (20 feet), getting an MiFi–compatible audio receiver wasn’t a priority.

Now, it’s super fun listening to the music I want, on–demand, without CDs.

I can finally enjoy Rdio in my car. If Amy and I had a long drive, I can import a movie into iTunes, sync to my iPhone, and orient the windshield mount in landscape.

Oh! There’s a small microphone mounted on my rear view mirror for phone calls via Bluetooth. If I get a phone call, I won’t need my iPhone earbuds, especially since Amy said the sound quality was really good when we tested it.

Thank you so much, Amy! 🙂

Greetings, Fuelly!

Since the end of 2008, I’ve kept a fairly regular habit of jotting down my trip mileage, odometer, price and other fill-up numbers[1. Date, station, odometer, price, gallons, and partial fuelup (yes/no).] whenever I fueled my 2003 Toyota Corolla at a gas station. When I get the chance, I’d open my spreadsheet file and add the new fill-ups.

When Matt Haughey started Fuelly, I postponed importing my data and switching from sheer laziness. After revisiting the site a couple days ago, I saw that I already had all the information I needed from my spreadsheet. After renaming the columns and changing a few fields to use boolean logic[2. Partial_fuelup and missed_fuelup from yes/no to 1/0.], my CSV import went through smoothly.

Why I dig Fuelly:

  • Fuelly displays my data with elegant charts and graphs, which is more than my spreadsheet.
  • With my smartphone, using Fuelly’s mobile site is gorgeous and allows me to enter new data easily, saving the step of writing it down for later.
  • If I choose to leave, I can export my fuel-up data to a CSV text file.

Right when I was about to publish this post, Fuelly wouldn’t show any car details. After a quick email to inform the Fuelly team (of what I’m sure they already knew), Paul Bausch replied within minutes that the problem was fixed. Awesome. After a friendly interaction with Paul, and having watched a few episodes of Portlandia, Oregon is starting to look really nice. 🙂

My Fuelly username: btvillarin / Sign up at

The end of my car issues

About two weeks ago, after my oxygen sensors and spark plugs were replaced, I got my transmission fluid flushed for $130. I’ve definitely noticed an increase in gas mileage. Huzzah!

The last problem with my car: the door ajar light.

I asked the person who installed my aftermarket car alarm to look at it, but he basically ignored me — for several years.

I drove more often a few years ago, so my battery probably didn’t get drained like it did recently because it was always getting charged while driving around.

After getting my third battery (DieHard Gold) had to be replaced within three months of buying it, I was fed up.

Two days ago, I took my car to a local shop (Pro Tint) in Temple City. Their diagnostic service was $25. After waiting three hours, I was told the alarm “brain” circuitry was causing the problem. I was charged $10 more since the removal service was $35. He handed me the “brain” and I went on my way.

I hope that’s the last of my car issues.

Lessons learned:

  • When you get a new/used car, find the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and stick to it. (For my 2003 Toyota Corolla S, I should replace the engine oil/filter every 5,000-7,000 miles and automatic transmission fluid flushed every 30,000 miles.)
  • If you think you’ll need immediate support with a product or service, choose a company/person who dedicates their time for that.

If you like breathing dirt, change nothing

Change your cabin air filter already
[View on Flickr]

This is what the cabin air filter of my 2003 Toyota Corolla looks like after ~94,000 miles. That’s way overdue!

The one on the right is a new Bosch cabin air filter. I bought it at Kragen for a little over $17 with tax, then took 5 minutes to swap it was the old, filthy cabin air filter.[1. How to Change the Cabin Air Filter in a Toyota (wikiHow)]

From now on, it goes every 10,000 miles.

Whoa, I was warned back in October 2007 by Clever Dude. Unbelievable!

[amtap amazon:asin=B00162AKB0]

Don't wait for help if you lock your keys in the car

I’ve locked my keys in my car a handful times. The first few times, I knew someone that had a “Slim Jim”. I’ve also had to call AAA – how embarrassing.

But, if you’re a AAA member, you can request a credit card key that’ll fit in your wallet[1. Don’t forget to present your membership card.].

Note: It can only be used to open your car door, which doesn’t matter because you’re just retrieving your locked keys inside the car.