Motorcycle Karma Can Kill

You can't believe everything you read in the paper, but even if only half the story below is true, it's a beaut !

Sometimes the lemon is the one on the bike. Sometimes it is the bike. We can help you get rid of the bike if it's a lemon, but if the lemon is the one on top of the bike, we can't help you there.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Draw a Cartoon

So, when life gives you a lemon, get a Burdge attorney.


Top 10 Common Passwords; Should You Change Your's?

Warning! These are the top ten most frequently used passwords on personal computers. If you recognize yours, you may as well hand over your wallet or purse to the first person you see on the street.

  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. qwerty
  4. abc123
  5. letmein
  6. monkey
  7. myspace1
  8. password1
  9. link182
  10. (your first name)
PC Magazine rates these, with no real explanation, as the most frequently used passwords by private consumers. True or not, if you see one that you use on the list . . . dump it! Oh yeah, and don't write it on any stickies and leave them laying around either. . .

For more tips on identity theft, how to stop it from happening to you, how to know it happened to you, and what you can do about it, click here.


Hot Car Colors: What They Say About You

You are what you eat. People look like their dogs. And now the color of your car says what kind of person you are. At least that's what Jill Morton says.

Morton is a color consultant based in Honolulu who agrees with British researchers who years ago figured out that the color of your car (yeah, your car) says something about your personality.

Here's some results ... er, predictions ... well, whatever ...

Silver - cool headed but slightly aloof
Black - aggressive and maybe rebellious
White - a status seeking extrovert
Cream - controlled and self-contained
Gray - calm and sober, dedicated to work
Blue - reflective and cautious, introspective
Red - energetic, a quick thinker, mover, and talker
Yellow - idealistic
Green excitable
Pink - Loving, gentle, affectionate (yeah, but doesn't it give you that Mary Kay feeling?)

And if you run the numbers on auto accidents, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal, silver cars are half as likely to get involved in an injury-causing accident than other colors. Brown, black and green are the least safe colors, in the order. Maybe that's why they are predicting silver to be the next model year's biggest color choice (really).

You know, if there were scientists behind all the numbers, you'd have to wonder. Come to think about it, do they have so little to do that analyzing colors and personalities and accidents is what scientists are being paid to do?

So what do you do if you make cars and all the other manufacturers have red? If you're GM you call it something else. How about Salsa Red? Another new color name coming from GM soon is Cappuccino Frost. Chrysler is coming out with Cool Vanilla while Honda is coming out with Root Beer. And Ford? How about Merlot, Egg Yolk and Creme Brulee.

What is this? Are we making cars or did the paint department hire the Cooking Channel's staff?

Well, a lemon is still a lemon. And if you get one, get us. Squashing lemons is what we do. Every day.


Magna Tries Russia

Apparently rejected by DaimlerChrysler in its bid to acquire a chunk of ailing Chrysler, Magna is now woing AvtoVAZ, Russia's largest carmaker. The Russian company and Canadian auto parts maker Magna International agreed today to jointly develop and build a new budget car.

Reports are that the joint project will require about $2 billion and the new budget car is planned to sell at less than $12,000 but no news yet on where it'll be sold. Seems like the parts maker is bound and determined to get into the building business sooner rather than later. If they can't buy their way into Chrysler here, well, they plan on buying their way into the Russians over there. While some people aren't so sure about playing Russian roulette, apparently if you put enough money in front of the Russians, they forget how to say nyet, in favor of that famous line from Cabaret, "money, money, money, it makes the world go round."

The Russian car builder is already in a joint venture with General Motors and also said it hoped to partner up with French carmakers Renault and Peugeot-Citroen in the near future. I guess the moral is that the Russians will partner up with anyone as long as there's money in it. Looks like the Russians have jumped into the private enterprise party with both feet!

Earlier this month, Magna locked odwn a $1.54 billion investment from a company controlled by Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who also happens to be an apparent pal of President Putin. Like we said before, billionaires and presidents tend to hang out together apparently.

Maybe the Russians really are coming? Hopefully not here . . .


"We'll Pay You to Buy Chrysler"

Apparently parent company DaimlerChrysler AG (DC) is so anxious to dump Chrysler (CC) that it has agreed to pay the buyer $1.55 billion to take over the ailing American auto giant. Last week we thought the Russians were coming. Now, we find out it's Wall Street blue suit types who look to be poised to take over at Chrysler.

The takeover deal requires the new owner, Cerberus Capital Management (CCM), to pony up more than $6 billion to beef up the bank account of the Chrysler operation, including its financing division, according to Reuters news. That's not to buy the corporation . . . that's just to make the accounting books look good.

To grease the skids on the deal, Daimler agreed to transfer $1.55 billion to the Chrysler bank accounts just so it can jump ship from its nine-year-old failed merger. They paid $36 billion to acquire Chrysler back in 1998.

In exchange, Cerberus Capital Management gets an 80.1 percent stake in a more solvent Chrysler business. Chrysler’s main union, the United Auto Workers, is cautiously giving a thumbs up to the proposal.

Chrysler Chief Executive Tom LaSorda said the deal would not trigger job cuts beyond the 13,000 the company announced in February, when it unveiled a $1.5 billion 2006 operating loss.

Reports are that out of Cerberus’ $7.4 billion commitment, $6.05 billion will be dumped into Chrysler — $5 billion into auto operations and $1.05 billion into its finance arm. Cerberus will also pay $1.35 billion to Daimler, which in turn is loaning $405 million to Chrysler.

DaimlerChrysler, a German company whose name will change to Daimler AG if shareholders approve, will contribute $880 million to cover long-term liabilities at Chrysler. It also agreed to transfer Chrysler’s Auto business free to debt, saying that would mean a net cash cost of $680 million from the sale.

Chrysler's brands, the Jeep and Dodge and Chrysler brand, will stay with Chrysler. The German company's premium brands, however, will stay with Daimler. That's Mercedes-Benz, the luxury Maybach and the Smart minicars.

Cerberus is a New York-based private investment fund that has become a big player in the hedge-fund business. Going back to a lesson learned a decade ago, they are reputed to have hired Wolfgang Bernhard to be an advisor on the deal. He's the guy who helped turn Chrysler around earlier this decade.

Okay, so DC pays money to get CCM to take over CC, and CCM pays DC most of that back, and then DC loans about a third of it back to CC. The whole thing sounds like a money mad merry go round dreamed up by lawyers and bankers who are probably getting paid a commission for creativity . . . but then again, that's what it sounded like nearly a decade ago when Daimler came on the scene in the first place.

So when you call up the 800 number for warranty help, I guess you'll get a blue suit that wants to sell you stock. The whole thing sounds like a shell game to me. If you get a lemon, and that's what it begins to sound like to you too, call us. We know what to do about it.

Burdge Law Office

Helping Consumers, and Consumer Law Attorneys, Since 1978


Why Juries Matter

Every once in awhile you hear about a Judge who gets it. A judge who understands just how important it is that disputes should be resolved by a Jury that is made up of average everyday people. Not by private dispute systems or private arbitrators who are well paid and who don't let voters watch what they are doing in order to decide for themselves if this private process is fair or not.

Courtesy of
Dani Liblang, a Michigan Consumer Law attorney, comes this account of the thoughts of one man, a Michigan Judge, on just how critically important it is that our legal system is founded on the concept of the right to a Jury trial, and that the important decisions made by our government, like those that happen in our courts, must be decisions made by the will of the people.

The remarks that follow are a great explanation of why government by and for the people, does not mean government by and for corporations or the wealthy few. I do not know Judge Shelton, but I am lucky to be able to share with you some of the best words ever written . . .

Acceptance Remarks by Hon. Donald E. Shelton as he accepted the Blair S. Moody, Jr. Outstanding Judge Award from the Washtenaw Trial Lawyers Association on May 10, 2007:

I want to thank the members of this organization for honoring me with the Blair S. Moody, Jr award. The award has special meaning to me and I hope to all of you. Almost 25 years ago, the leaders of this fledgling group met in the library of our law office on Huron street and considered what we could do to honor Justice Blair Moody, who had just passed away while serving on the Michigan Supreme Court.

Very few in this room even know who Justice Moody was, much less what he stood for. He was a Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court from 1977-1982. As the award description suggests, he was the most ardent defender of the right to jury trial in the history of the Michigan Supreme Court.

Many years later when his portrait was unveiled, his friend (and mine) attorney Gene Mossner said:

"One of the things that Blair stood for and defended always was the right, the sacred right, of trial by jury that's written into the bill of rights. Today, when that right is being attacked in so many ways, subtle ways, it is good that we remember people like Blair and vow to defend it as vigorously as he did."

His former partner, Leonard Wilcox, said:

"His political philosophy, which was expressed in many conversations, was progressive and pragmatic. He deeply believed in the dignity of every individual, the need to redress the power relationship between the privileged and the weak, and to advance the cause of blacks and other minorities that they might more fully share in the benefits of this great land. He respected others who shared his dedication to good government, even though they chose to do so through the work of the Republican Party."

I hope that I am the recipient of this award as someone who has vowed to defend the right to a jury trial as vigorously as Blair Moody and I accept it in that spirit.

Many of you know that for several years I have taught at Eastern Michigan University in the Criminology and Political Science departments. When I teach about the American legal system, I try to convey to my students the historical context of our constitution.

This country is unique. Our founders had the revolutionary idea that a nation should be governed by its people and not by monarchs or the autocratic elite. They built in our constitution the basic premise that the government would be controlled by the mass of the population, determined by their numbers and not by their wealth or power. They built a system, one which is being tested daily by the current President, where the people's will is to be the nation's will.

But they went a step further in another unique manner. They decided that the people should determine not only questions of national policy, but that they should decide matters of justice in individual cases. The jury system reflects this country's historical constitutional commitment to be governed by the mass of the population. I would suggest to current majority justices of the Michigan Supreme Court that they take a closer look at the "Federalist Papers" the next time they are at one of their Federalist Society meetings. They would find that the insistence on trial by jury was one of the strongest demands of the framers of the constitution. As de Tocqueville observed, "[t]he system of the jury, as it is understood in America, appears to me as direct and as extreme a consequence of the dogma of the sovereignty of the people as universal suffrage."

Our justice system, like the rest of our constitutional framework, is designed to be "by the people," and in the justice system those "people" are the jurors, not the judges. The constitutional guarantee to a jury is a specific commitment to allow random representatives of the public to make decisions about individual justice. It is one of the few vestiges of direct democracy in our system and it is the quintessential example of this country's democratic ideals.

As my former law professor, Paul Carrington, said "one constant feature of the jury has been its status as a representative of the community being governed." Author Jeffrey Abramson has said "the jury version of democracy stands almost alone today in entrusting the people at large with the power of government."

If Blair Moody could see what is happening today he would turn over in his grave (and I don't just mean the fact that I am actually getting an award with his name on it!) In the last decade the appellate courts of this state have systematically sought to diminish or eliminate the right to a jury trial for our citizens. And they have for the most part succeeded.

There is a reason why the framers of our constitution insisted that people and not judges would be the arbiters of individual justice in this country. They knew that judges cannot be trusted. They knew from experiences in England and in the colonies that judges are just frail men, and today women, subject to corruption by the very power they are entrusted with and, even more dangerously, subject to making decisions to favor the dominant elite that put them in their position in the first place. They had seen judges do awful things. They had seen the judge in the William Penn trial even lock up jurors to coerce them into returning a verdict for the ruling powers.

They did not condemn all judges or think that we did not need them. But they knew that when it came to doing justice for the ordinary citizens, they needed to trust the people themselves, sitting as collective representatives of the community, to do true justice.

What we have seen in this State in the last decade demonstrates first of all that the framers were right. The ruling majority on the Michigan Supreme Court, now known as the "gang of four" has taken the right to jury trial away from many of our citizens. They have done it very cleverly and with a great deal of legal rhetoric. But their legalistic trappings are a ruse.

In medical malpractice cases for example, it is not really about whether an affidavit was signed in front of a notary public sworn under some ancient law. It is not really about whether the proposed expert has a subspecialty in the subspecialty of the organization in which the defendant is a member. It is not really about whether the notice of the claim was filed on the 181st or the 182nd day after the victim died from the medical treatment. What it is about for them is making sure that real people on a jury never get to decide whether a wrong was done and who did it.

Where a person is injured in a fall, it is not really about the legalistic citations of the rule regarding comparative negligence. It is not really about the jargon of a doctrine of "open and obvious" that says a blind man should have seen, or a lame woman should have walked around, a dangerous condition. What it is about for them is making sure that real people on a jury never get to decide whose fault the accident was and who should bear the burden of the injuries that resulted.

When a child is injured in an automobile accident, it is not about applying the legal philosophy of "textualism" to a statute that says adults should file their legal claim for compensation for their injuries within one year. What it is really about for them is making sure that real people on a jury never get to decide if the child is entitled to the insurance compensation that his or her parents paid so dearly for.

No, the reality is that this is precisely the corruption that the founders of our country feared the most. Left alone, judges can do awful things. Oh they will dress them up in legal jargon, but in the end judges are susceptible, as this State has so disastrously demonstrated, to determining what is justice by deciding what is best for the interests of the powerful autocracy that gave the judges their small share of that power.

Shame on them. And shame on us for not standing up for the people and demanding our constitutional right to a trial "by the people".

Aristotle said that democracy's chief virtue was the way it permitted ordinary persons drawn from different walks of life to achieve a 'collective wisdom' that none could achieve alone. The jury is the last best refuge of this connection between democracy and the achievement of justice both for, and by, ordinary persons.

So I accept this award in the spirit in which I trust it was bestowed. I accept it as a challenge to me to continue my commitment to democracy as it is so truly represented by the jury system.

At his 1977 swearing in, Blair Moody said:

"The position of Justice of the Supreme Court belongs to the people. It is now only loaned to me. I shall try to use it with great care, for I have the duty, someday, to pass it on in the best condition possible. And, in the meantime, I shall do my best and never forget the words of Harvard: "the greatest glory of a freeborn people is to transmit that freedom to their children."

In recognition of this award, I promise to continue my dedication to that freedom as long as the people ask me to do so and loan me their robe to wear.

= = = = =

Judge Moody and Judge Shelton are two judges whose belief in the inherent value and fundamental importance of the jury system are admirable and growing rarer nowadays.

It's been said that people will not understand the real importance of the right to a jury trial until they lose it. Unfortunately, that is happening more and more each day.


Extended Warranty Ripoffs

Extended warranties have been one of the highest profit customer ripoffs ever seen in the auto industry. Worse yet, with little regulation, they are likely to stay that way. So, what can you do to avoid being ripped off by one?

First, don't buy one. Everyone in the industry knows that the profits are high and the payout is low. No matter what they are wanting to charge you, the odds are that over half that money is pure profit to the car dealer. And if the warranty company's name isn't the same as an auto manufacturer, then you can bet that the profit margin is even higher, probably at least 60 percent and more likely 75 percent of the price is pure profit.

Worse yet, the coverage goes down drastically when it's one of those PO Box warranties. That's what they used to be called in the business because many of them were originally run out of PO Boxes by owners with something of a shady background.

Second, get educated. If you want to get an inside glimpse into how an extended warranty company gets started and makes a pile of money denying claims, take a look at Platinum Warranty and Plantinum Tony, a high-flying operation that collapsed just a couple of years ago. It's an outrageous story of an outrageous man who perfected an outrageous ripoff of what some are calling thousands of consumers. Even the state of Ohio couldn't get back customer's money.

If you know how they operate, maybe you'll have a fighting chance of avoiding the ripoff in the first place.

Third, don't buy one. After all, if that shiny new car has been built right in the first place, then you won't need an extended warranty. Save your money.

Fourth, if you really, really think there's any value in an extended warranty, then don't settle for anything that isn't actually backed by your vehicle make's manufacturer. And haggle over the price. No matter what that F and I salesman is telling you (and you can bet it probably won't be the truth), there's a huge markup for dealer profit in every extended warranty.

Oh, and you think that salesman or the F and I salesperson is on your side? Forget about it. In almost all car dealerships, they are paid strictly on commission. You don't buy from them, they don't get paid. Simple as that. That proves there's a huge dealer profit in extended warranties.

Everyone gets big bucks and you get a fillegreed piece of paper that has about as many holes in it as a kitchen colander.

Don't let a car dealer rip you off. When it happens, don't hesitate doing something about it. Life's too short to put up with a bad car, and you work too hard to put up with a ripoff car dealer.


Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming

Chrysler ... bought by the Russians? Say it ain't so . . .

Magna International is a finalist in the buyout bidding for Chrysler and is already making plans on restructuring the lumbering auto giant. Now comes word that
a company owned by Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska will pay $1.54 billion for 20 million shares in Magna. Deripaska is reported to have political connections with Russian President Vladimir Putin but of course that's no surprise. Seems like Presidents of lots of countries have "political connections" with billionaires.

You think you've got trouble with warranty coverage now, just wait 'till the Russians are making the decisions! Nyet may be what you may be hearing on the 800 number sooner than you think!

Okay, so let me see if I've got this right. Americans sold Chrysler to the Germans and now the Germans are ready to sell it to an outfit made up of Russians and Canadians? What gives here?

Looks like Magna apparently wants to get some partners in on its Chrysler deal to spread the risk in case things turn out bad later on. One
JP Morgan analyst, Himanshu Patel, predicted that the proposed structure of the deal could allow Stronach and Deripaska to buy Chrysler through a holding company, which would allow Magna's main auto parts business to keep selling to other auto companies while Magna looks to make a profit off its partial Chrysler ownership.

Big business looks to buy big car companies so it can make big lemons that we're all stuck with. There's something rotten in Denmark.

Oh, wait a minute, they aren't in the deal . . . yet.


Nothing Fair About the "Fair Arbitration Act"

The Spin Masters are at it again. This time they're beating up on farmers.

US legislators are considering a bill that some in Congress have been trying to get passed for at least two years, but Big Business keeps blocking it. Co sponsored by Senators from Vermont, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois, where farmers matter big to the economy, you'd think that others would realize farmers could use some help and Senators from the farm states ought to know it.

The bill is called the Fair Contracts for Growers Act, S. 221, and it would provide for greater fairness in the arbitration process in to livestock and poultry contracts. What's so bad about that? The proposal seems fair. It would allow arbitration to be used resolve a dispute (as provided for under a livestock or poultry contract) only if, after the controversy arises, both parties consent in writing. It also would require the arbitrator to explain the facts and the law that made him or her decide the dispute the way they did.

So, if you're a very conservative congressman, getting lots of campaign donations from Big Business, what do you do to protect Big Business? Why, it's time for Amendments, of course!

"But we want it to sound like we're actually improving the bill," one says to the other. "No problem, let's call it the Fair Arbitration Act of 2007 'cause everyone likes something that's 'fair'," he answers back. And we're off to the spin doctors again...

Not to be outdone by reasonable efforts to protect the farmers, along comes Senators Kyl and Sessions who want to tack on amendments that would basically rip apart the original bill's intent to protect contract farmers from unfair (and often unnoticed) binding arbitration clauses.

Here's some of what the Give Me Back My Rights coalition have said about the anti-Fair Contracts bill's proposed amendments and why the so-called "Fair Arbitration Act" is really an unfair ripoff ...

- arbitration clauses are often buried in the fine print of a billing insert
- farmers, like consumers, have no real ability to bargain against Big Business interests
- legally required services (like car insurance and having a job) leave individuals with no choice about signing contracts on a take it or leave it basis
- powerful companies evade impartial scrutiny by courts
- consumer protection laws can be circumvented
- arbitrators are paid to make decisions by the people who favor arbitration and can unfairly become profit-driven in the very decisions they make
- the amendment's claimed procedureal "fix" (like getting a written explanation of the decision) end up having to be paid for by the requester at extra cost

Worse yet, Big Business actually has a bigger target in mind here ... they're going after all of your legal rights too!

This Big Business proposal would cover all kinds of arbitrations and would also basically create a "loser pays" change in the law for those who even dared go to court too. This is nothing short of a way to try to sneak in thru the back door some fundamental changes in our court system that they know we wouldn't let in thru the front door. Their changes would turn our court system upside down. Safeguards already exist in our court system to penalize abusive lawsuits but the court system wisely leaves it up to judges to decide whether or not a particular case has been abusive. Big Business wants would take that away from judges.

A friend of mine said he heard a judge telling a jury how important the right to trial by jury is for our system, how we declared our independence from England because they denied us the right to a jury trial, and how the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution both enshrined the right to a jury trial ... and how it made him wonder why people would give up such an important legal right and agree to a private secret "court" where no one would know what was going on. Well, folks, that's exactly what arbitration is all about.

Make no mistake about it. There's nothing at all fair about Big Business' so-called "Fair Arbitration Act". Write or email your congressional representative by clicking here and tell them, in plain english, "the Fair Arbitration Act is UNFAIR and I don't want it!"

Better yet, the Rural Advancement Foundation has created an easy-to-send letter that you can use. Please take the easy step of clicking the link below and (modify) and send the letter they've created:

Farmers are the backbone of this country and they need all of our help to fight back against Big Agribusiness. Some of the worst stories of arbitration abuse come from honest rural farmers who are just trying to make a living and raise their family.


Snake Mustang, Wings Optional

The people who made Shelby mean something in American racing are at it again.

Ford Motor Co. and Shelby Automobiles have added another specialty Mustang to the stable of pony car offerings with the ’08 Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake coupe.

The limited-edition Super Snake bumps output from the already-impressive 500 hp produced by the base GT500 to a screaming 600 hp. Not enough for you? Well they can fix that...

As long as you don't mind voiding the Ford warranty completely, Shelby's team will jack up the hp to a "take to the skies" 725 hp ... just add wings and fly off into the sunset!

Plans are to build the high performance cars in Vegas beginning later this year. In addition to the power upgrade, the Super Snake will get a performance-grade exhaust system; a short-throw shifter; 6-piston brakes with Shelby cast calipers and larger rotors (airbrakes not included); and a Ford Racing Handling Pack, which includes performance suspension tuning, lowering springs, tuned stabilizer bars and a front strut tower base. Neither pricing nor planned volume has been announced.

Of course, you do lose that invaluable Ford warranty when you crank up the horsepower to stratospheric levels, but at least jet fuel isn't required to run it (yet). But think about you really need to go that fast?


Sales and Fraud Seesaw

The Dayton Busines Journal, like many business publications, say that auto sales are slowing down. It's happening in Denver and nationwide, but what does it really mean for you?

We've noticed a consistent trend over the years, when it comes to manufacturer's quality. It doesn't mean slow sales at all. To understand it, though, you have to realize that new car sales are only a small part of the average dealer's income. "There's a hundred ways to make a buck," we heard a car dealer say once, and we believe it.

Car dealer operations are set up in departments. They make money from every department. New car sales, used car sales, parts, service, F&I, body shop, etc. Car dealers set up each department as a separate income source and then usually pay the manager of each department on a commission basis, in order to force each department to earn make its own profit. That way each department is its own "profit center."

So when sales slow down, what happens?

What we consistently have seen over the years is that when quality goes up, the dealer's service department income goes down. The dealer operator, used to seeing the overall operation earn a certain amount of money, puts pressure on the other departments. The result?

Things that might have been covered by your extended warranty, aren't covered in the service department. The extended warranty being sold in by F&I costs a little more. Your insurance company gets a body shop estimate that's a little higher than expected because of "hidden" damage. These costs are often hidden from the consumer in one way or another.

Instead, more customers start hearing about "negative trade in equity" and other scams that cost you money. But where do you see it most?

Well, usually when one department's income goes down, the pressure is on for another to go up. What we have often see over the years is that when new car sales go down (like right now), the fraud in the used car sales department goes up. Best example? Last week.

Last week we had three different consumers call us for help from different parts of Ohio and in each case they had been sold a wrecked car without knowing it. That's doesn't surprise us.

If you read in your local paper that new car sales are down, be careful. That's not the time for you to get a tune up at your dealer, no matter how much you trust them. That's not the time to go used car shopping either.

You have to be careful. Car dealers are out to make a buck and if they don't make it in the new car sales department, you can bet they're making it somewhere else. Don't let it be off you.


Cool Car Stuff Coming

Technology has some great car gadgets in store for your new car in the coming years. Many are already showing up in the showroom. Many people have heard of the Lexus self parking car, but there's much more heading your way. Here's a sample of what Detroit is working on...

For the driver who hates the everyday poor quality of most auto sound systems, Bang-Olufsen have the answer and its showing up in some new Audi cars. B&O specialize in high bling home electronics equipment and gear. Like the company's cell phone that costs over a grand and does nothing but work like a phone. No camera. No nothing else. But you want a stereo that'll move your car when it's standing still? How about a 1,100 watt amplifier and tweeters that rise out of the dashboard, 12 speakers and a subwoofer under your seat? Well, write out a check for an extra $6k+ and you'll have it in your new Audi.

Is that my car? Well, you may not have to wonder to find out. Word leaked out last fall that Hitachi is working on door locks that identify the car owner by the pattern of veins in their fingers. Some current computer security systems scan finger veins on your palm to identify the user. But when you grip a door handle, those veins deform around the handle. So Hitachi's new system will scan veins behind the fingernails instead. Those key fobs with built in transmitters Will be replaced by the human hand, God's ultimate security system. Now if only they could figure out the blood alcohol content of those veins, they could let you in the car but not let you drive it. Oh well, at least in an Audi you'd have a terrific stereo system to sober up with.

Automatic school zone detectors are being worked on by Toyota. The system uses a camera to recognize the universal school zone sign's shape. If you're speeding, the system will brake down to the speed limit.

There've been DVD players in cars for some years now but television on the move has been limited to Rv's. Well, not anymore. At the 2007 New York Auto Show, Chrysler and Sirius showed off the Sirius Back Seat TV system that they say will come out on the 2008 Town & Country and the Dodge Grand Caravan, before anyone else gets it. Tv monitors will be built into the back of the headrest in front of you and rear seat occupants can watch Tv while driving down the road. And when the car is parked, front seat occupants can also watch on their front screen. Since it's Sirius, that means you can expect to pay extra but they say the available channels will emphasize kid-friendly programming. Okay, so maybe it'll cost extra to watch Howard Stern? Now if they could just wire up a popcorn maker, you'd hardly have to go home at all.

Ever been driving at night and had to search for that cup of coffee or soft drink in the cupholder? Well, Chrysler (again) has a solution. It's a soft bluish green glow that lights up the cupholder. Now why didn't someone think of that before?

The electric car rises like a Phoenix from the ashes of unemployed aerospace engineers, fueled by Silicon Valley venture capital cash. Tesla Motors has sold out the first 100 of its two seat electric roadsters being built in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At $100,000 each, the price isn't cheap, but they look gorgeous and move like an Impala. No, wait...that's a different brand...I meant the animal...not the Chevy. But then again, even GM is trying to figure out how to make the Volt run faster and longer on its batteries. Smart, sexy, and fast Electric cars may finally start to show up on a street near you.

Do you ever start to change lanes and hesitate because you know there's a blind spot somewhere near your car's side rear and you just aren't sure? Well, Volvo has a fix for you. Not to show off or anything, but Volvo has gone the rear view camera one better with the side mounted version. The camera peeks behind for any cars that might be in your car's blind spot and if it "sees" one, then an orange light appears on the windowsill to warn you. It's an option on the Volvo S80, called the Blind Spot Information System. If it bothers you, you can turn the system off, of course, but then hitting that car in the blind spot will increase your insurance rates and isn't that why you paid extra for the option in the first place?

How about a speaker in your car's headliner? How about turning the whole headliner into a stereo speaker? Well Toyota's FJ Cruiser has an audio system that does it. Forget about having the neighborhood kid transplant a couple of 12 inch woofers behind the rear seat. How about a 72 inch speaker membrane blasting you from above? Well, actually it doesn't create a huge sound level but Toyota says that it does a great job of complementing the Cruiser's regular speakers. You know, I just don't know about this one. I don't like sitting that close to the stage at a concert, so why would I want to sit under a huge sound system speaker? On the other hand, hearing aid sellers are gearing up for a huge sales opportunity in a few years...if they're smart they'll stick a product brochure in the glove box of every new Cruiser!

Ever been ripped off by a body shop? Who hasn't... Well, GM may actually solve that. They're working on a technology that would allow cars to repair themselves after minor accidents. It's some super secret plastic and metal product that would revert to its original shape when heat or electricity is applied to it. Parking lot dings would be a thing of the past. The Dent Doctor better start investing his money in GM stock. Got a dent? Get out the blow dryer...

Now here's one someone should've thought of long ago. 13 of GM's 2007 vehicles offer the HotShot heated windshield wiper fluid system. The fluid is heated up so when it hits the windshield it'll clear frost and ice fast. Ford has dibs to install the system on a sedan in 2010, but until then GM is ahead of the frosty game. So simple. I can't believe I didn't get that patent...

The coolest antitheft system out there is being pefected by FlashFog in Ontario. Tons better than that stupid etch a sketch scam where the car dealer charges you a hundred or two bucks to scratch some numbers on your car windows. This thing keeps the would be thief from even seeing thru the windows at all! A thief tries to start your car and in just a couple of seconds FlashFog fills the entire passenger cabin with a vapor that is so thick he can't see anything at all. The vapor is harmless, but maybe it'll come with an extra, built in pepper spray that'll cause a little pain at the same time. You know, sort of an Instant Justice FlashFog version.

The auto industry can be a very cool thing to watch evolve, but as long as they remember that what people want first and foremost is reliable, safe transportation for their families, new cars will sell. When they don't build them right, though, things get ugly real fast.

That's why we're here. We sue car dealers and car manufacturers everyday over lemon cars and lemon trucks and lemon rv's. The dealers and manufacturers know that's what we do. Maybe that's one reason we don't always have to do it. Sometimes just a few phone calls and strongly worded letters can get the job done for you.