Category Archives: Automotive

Koomus Aero Air Vent Car Mount

This is yet another smartphone car mount I’m reviewing ūüôā The folks at Koomus was kind enough to send me a few of their mount options after seeing my first review. ¬†I’ve already reviewed the CD-Air and Magnetos before, both of which are cd slot based mounts. This review is for the Koomus¬†Aero Air Vent Car Mount, designed to attach your phone to your car’s¬†air vent.

Koomus Aero Air Vent Car Mount

There are currently many different air vent mounts available on the market and although very similar, they all differ in their clip and grip design. Unfortunately I don’t have competitors¬†to compare against, so I will simply review the Aero against its CD slot mounted siblings and personal preference.

Aero with iPhone 6+ mounted on spring loaded grip.
Aero with iPhone 6+ mounted on spring loaded grip.

Weighing in at only 1oz. the Koomus Aero is a clip based mount which attaches¬†to your vehicle’s air vent grill. The clip is plastic and is protected by a rubberized tip¬†to create a strong grip and prevent¬†damage to your air vent’s grill. The design ¬†is very simple and attaching the mount is as easy as pushing the clip against the grill. The clip is strong and will require¬†moderate force to attach or¬†detach. Once secure, you’ll have the confidence that it will never fall off. The clip will fit most grill designs, vertical / horizontal, although there are some limitations as indicated by the manufacturer. Your air vent’s grill needs to be a minimum of 3/4″ in¬†length and each slat can’t exceed 1/8″ in thickness for best compatibility.

Aero with iPhone 6+ mounted.
Aero with iPhone 6+ mounted.

Koomus Aero Air Vent Car Mount

The grip, like the Koomus CD-Air, is a spring loaded system¬†with a rubberized lining to securely hold your phone in place. The photo shows the Aero holding an iPhone 6+ with case, but it will hold a phone, with or without a case, up to 3.27″ wide. The grip is connected to the mounting clip by a ball joint that gives you the ability to rotate, swivel, and tilt to your liking.

Koomus Aero mounted portrait mode on air vent.
Koomus Aero mounted portrait mode on air vent.

In portrait mode, the Aero is best positioned as it provides a greater degree of tilt towards or away from the driver. In landscape mode, depending on the length of the phone, the possible tilt angle is reduced due to the distance between the phone and air vent.

Koomus Aero mounted lanscape on air vent.
Koomus Aero mounted lanscape on air vent.

The Koomus Aero is one of many mounting options available out there and only you can determine which will work best for¬†your situation. I personally like forced air blowing onto my face and hands while driving,¬†so¬†¬†covering up one of my vents is not ideal. ¬†The one advantage I see is when you prefer having your phone to the left of the steering wheel, where mounting options are limited unless you like attaching suction based mounting systems to your glass. I personally can’t stand suction cup marks or having mounts which attract too much attention for prying eyes. A vent based system is very discreet and easy to detach and hide inside your car if needed.

Every situation, like the layout of your car’s functions and relative position of controls, will determine the best mounting option for you. I hope that my reviews of the CD-Air, Magnetos, and Aero will make the research and discovery process simpler.

The Koomus Aero Air Vent Car Mount is inexpensive and can be purchased for $14.99 from Amazon in either (black) or (white) in color.

Koomus CD-Air – Universal Smartphone Mount

Koomus CD-Air CD Slot MountA few weeks ago I posted a detailed and glowing review of the Koomus Magnetos universal cd slot smartphone mount. This week Koomus was kind enough to send me one of their other cd slot options, the Koomus CD-Air РUniversal Smartphone Mount, to review.

Koomus CD Air – Spring loaded grip holding an iPhone 6 plus.

Like the Magnetos, the CD-Air is a cd slot based smartphone mount. The difference between the two is how the phone is attached to the mount. In the Magnetos, the phone is mounted via a magnet whereby the CD-Air uses a spring loaded grip to securely hold he phone in place. Another difference between the two is the base unit and how it attaches to your cd slot. It is a newer and sleeker design. In the Magnetos, the slot mount is tightened by an adjustable screw and the CD-Air by a one-touch locking lever.

Koomus CD-Air mounted in the cd slot of a BMW 5 series.

The fit of the CD-Air inside the cd slot is snug and with the one-touch locking mechanism, installation is a snap. If for some reason your cd slot is too big the packaging also includes three different sized pads, that you can clip on the blades, for the perfect fit. As you can see from the image below, once installed, the mount is low profile and is easily adjustable. It has a long neck that can be adjusted up and down relative to the base, and a ball joint with a wide range of motion.

Note: The ball joint will seem stiff at first, but after frequent adjustments, it will loosen up for smoother operation.

Koomus CD-Air with iPhone 6 plus mounted and tilted towards the passenger.

The advantages of the CD-air‘s design is that it can hold most phones up to 3.54 inches wide. This will fit most phones, even with¬†a case installed. It also holds your phone securely in place, without needing¬†to worry about accidental physical contact, that can knock the phone off the mount; something you have to worry about with magnetic mounts. The grip is lined with soft rubber on the inside and will not leave a mark on your phone.

The adjustability is almost limitless as you can fully rotate between portrait and landscape and tilt with a wide range of motion.

Koomus CD-Air with iPhone 6 plus – landscape mode.

In summary, the Koomus CD-Air is a great accessory to own if you need a secure and convenient way to mount your smartphone in your vehicle. The secure grip, snug cd slot fit, and its full range of adjustability makes it a good buy. I also forgot to mention that the build quality is fairly nice. The black plastic matches that of most dark plastic in vehicles today.

Koomus CD-Air with iPhone 6 plus.

Having both the CD-Air and the Magnetos mount, I prefer the base of the CD-Air and the magnetic mount of the Magnetos. The only advantage of the CD-Air is its secure attachment and knowing that a hard jolt or accidental contact will not knock your phone off the mount.

Koomus Magnetos Universal CD Slot Car Mount

Customer review for the Koomus Magnetos Universal CD Slot Magnetic Cradle-less Smartphone Car Mount Holder.  

Since purchasing the new iPhone 6 plus, the phone no longer fits inside my cup holder or in crevices where my old iPhone 5 would easily fit. This is a huge problem for me and the search for the perfect car mount holder begins. Upon reading many reviews online and on Amazon, I narrowed it down to a few with the criteria that it is unobtrusive, easy on and off, non-suction based, and ease of manipulation for the perfect viewing angle.

Magnetos CD Slot Smartphone Magnetic Car Mount
Magnetos CD Slot Smartphone Magnetic Car Mount

Based on its simple design and brilliant mounting option, I decided to order the Koomus Magnetos Universal CD Slot Magnetic Cradle-less Smartphone Car Mount Holder from Amazon for $16.00.

Installation was straightforward and simple. The small box contains the CD mount, magnetic ball joint, and two thin¬†pieces of metal. One with¬†adhesive and the other without. I don’t recommend using the

Place the thin piece of metal in between your phone and case

adhesive version just because it looks ugly to stick that to the back of your phone or case. It was included for devices like a GPS unit where a case is not available. Use the loose piece of metal and put it inside, between your phone and case. See illustration. You can use either the one with adhesive or not, but the one without seems thinner and will not affect the fitment of your case.

Tip: I recommend that you cover the metal sheet with tape or alternatively, a post-it note so that the bare metal does not come in contact and scratch your phone.

Attaching the Magnetos car mount to your CD slot.

Now that you have the metal installed, practice attaching it to the magnetic ball joint and play with the adjustments. Now attach the CD mount to your car’s slotted CD player. It will seem loose at first, but by turning the adjustment screw, the insert will expand and hold the unit in place. On the BMW 5 series, it fits perfectly without completely obstructing the air-vents or¬†other critical controls.

At night, the mount is dark and small, keeping it discreet from prying eyes.

As you can see, the installation is straightforward and the look is discreet, not attracting attention like other popular windshield or dash mounts. You can adjust the ball joint to suit your viewing angle and easily change the orientation of your phone from portrait to landscape just by lifting and rotating your phone.

Also good for watching YouTube and movies.
iPhone 6 Plus mounted magnetically

The surface with which it comes in contact with your phone is made out of grippy rubber and once magnetically attached, the rubber has enough grip to let it not slide around during bumpy runs.

Note: The magnet is strong enough to securely hold your phone in place, but it is not strong enough for when you press the home button. Since the iPhone home button is at the bottom edge, the leverage point will easily pop your phone off the magnet. When you need to operate the phone, be gentle and support the tapping pressure with your hands behind for support.

iPhone 6 Plus mounted and tilted towards the driver.

Tilting the phone towards the driver, makes it really easy to operate apps like Waze, to tag police speed traps and traffic cams.

In summary, the Koomus Magnetos CD car mount holder is something I highly recommend if you have the same criteria as I do. In my opinion, this is the best accessory for all smartphones, large or small.

Optimum No Rinse Wash and Shine

 

ONR solution

Do you live in a condo, apartment, or in an area where water usage is controlled / restricted, preventing you from fully hand washing your car with an open hose. If so, Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine, also known as ONR, is your solution. Optimum No Rinse is a rinse-less car wash system, where you can simply wash your car with very little water, runoff, and overspray. You can do this in your building’s parking garage and your neighbors car will never get wet.

Pressure Sprayer Рtypically used to spray plants, but it is also widely used by window tint installers and for other chemical applications. Perfect for ONR pre-soaker.

At first I was very hesitant to try the method. I own a brand new 2014 BMW M5 and am very OCD about the way my car looks. I can’t stand swirl marks or scratches. I usually take my car to a detailer¬†for a wash and wax, but it can get very expensive every 2 weeks when¬†spending $99 + tip every time. I usually don’t get my cars very dirty, just slight road dust and dirt, so I¬†decided to give ONR a try. It is very important that your car does not have caked on dirt and grime. For that level of dirt, it should be pre-soaked and hosed down. When this happens, I will go to¬†a self carwash and pre-soak my car with soap, rinse, and blow dry before going home to use ONR. Regardless of how dirty the car is, I highly recommend that you pre-soak the car with ONR solution and water. I use a hand-held pressure spray bottle shown above with a cap full of ONR (more than you actually need, but you can never be too safe). ONR is designed to lubricate and lift dirt without applying any pressure. It can also be used as a claying lubricant if you need to clay your car.

One 32 oz. bottle can wash your car more than 15 times because all you need is 2 cap full, or 2 oz. per 5 gallon bucket of water. I’m not going to guide you on how to wash your¬†car, there are many resources out there, but I will stress that you should use multiple wash mitts, the two bucket system, a grit guard, and work your car from top to bottom one panel at a time. Trust me, you will be amazed what this non-toxic ONR solution can do.

The ride after ONR wash:

In the garage after ONR wash

2014 BMW M5 – Competition Package

The story

2010 Audi S4
2010 Audi S4 – STaSIS ECU tuned

For the last 4 years, I have been driving a¬†2010 Audi S4. A¬†great sports sedan, with Quattro all-wheel drive and a supercharged V6 engine that produced 333 hp and 325 lb-ft. ¬†Plenty of power for most but for some reason I wanted more. As a result, I looked¬†at aftermarket tuning options¬†and decided to go with¬†STaSIS engineering’s ECU remap to the tune of 410 hp and 370 lb-ft. The car was a beast and ran¬†well without issues, but the warranty was quickly coming to an end this past year. So I had to make a tough decision, to either keep and risk the high cost of German car ownership post warranty, or trade it in. Despite friends telling me that the car still looked new and I’d be a fool to sell it, I couldn’t resist thinking about driving¬†a new car.

I had a strict criteria for any car in my current situation. It needed to be a combination of luxury, sport, and practicality. I’m single with no kids, why practical? Well, I’ve always liked large cars and the ability to cary unexpected items and people. ¬†Ideally I’d prefer having two cars, but living in San Francisco, not many properties¬†offer more than one garage space with each unit. This limits me to one car that can do it all. It came down to¬†3 German super sedans, the 2014 BMW M5 Competition Package, Mercedes E63 AMG-S, and Audi RS7.

For an entire¬†¬†month, I went up and down the Bay Area, talking to multiple BMW, Mercedes, and Audi dealerships in person and email. Without going into too much detail on test drives and writing about¬†super sedan comparison, I decided that the BMW M5 was the best overall choice. All three cars would make any enthusiast happy, but the final decision came down to price and availability. Both Mercedes and Audi were hard to get, wasn’t willing to budge from MSRP, and had some ridiculous dealer markups.

At this point I knew what I wanted in terms of color and options, but was in no rush to buy anything. The S4 ran perfectly fine, paid for, and I still had second thoughts about spending over $100k for a new car. So one Sunday morning I got up early for a round of golf and before leaving the house, I decided to search BMW’s inventory in the area. Lo and behold, a dealership 45 miles away had a¬†car with the color and all the options¬†I wanted. Feeling excited,¬†I left the house and played my usual round of golf with the expectation of just looking at the car after. I quickly rushed after my round and headed down to the dealership. They were closing at 8pm and I got there at 7:30. They allowed me to test drive the car and after grinning from ear to ear, we sat down to talk¬†numbers. At this point, I wasn’t ready to buy the car. I¬†didn’t have my checkbook¬†and figured I was going to get shafted on my trade-in and¬†sale price. The salesman came back and showed me the¬†S4 trade-in value, which matched¬†that of KBB’s top value and a price I was happy with. He then threw out a number slightly below MSRP for the M5. Not feeling so excited at the sale price, I then asked him to login to truecar.com which indicated a price very close¬†invoice. He was hesitant at first but then talked to his manager to see what he could do. I was pleasantly surprised when¬†he returned,¬†giving me an excellent trade-in plus a sale price practically at invoice. So now I’m crapping my pants, asking myself what to do. I told him that I didn’t have my checkbook and he said not to worry because I¬†had my trade-in and he can put the remainder¬†on the loan. I asked him for a moment to think, so I went back to my car and curiously checked my glove compartment. To my surprise, there was an old checkbook inside ūüėÄ Came back inside and closed the deal. Everyone had gone home, it was only the salesman, his manager, and the finance guy left. Signed all the paperwork, transferred all the contents of my car into the M5 and drove home ¬†two hours after closing.

This was by far the largest impulse purchase, deciding in the moment, that I have ever made. I’m glad that I did because I am thoroughly enjoying my time with the M5.

The Review

This review is not meant to be technical or objective, but rather a subjective perspective of an everyday driver.

2014 BMW M5 - Singapore Grey
2014 BMW M5 – Singapore Grey
BMW 601m wheels
BMW 601m wheels

Configuration:

2014 F10 BMW M5 Competition Pack

Engine: 4.4 L Twin Turbo V8
575hp, 500lb-ft

  • Singapore grey
  • Sakhir orange interior
  • competition package
  • drivers assist
  • executive
  • lighting
  • B&O audio
  • 601m style wheels

This car is the perfect combination of¬†sport and luxury. With¬†high-end options like a¬†Bang & Olufsen stereo and your standard list of 5 series luxury appointments, ¬†combined with BMW M division’s performance, makes the M5 one special vehicle.

Is the competition pack worth the $7,300 price tag? In my opinion, YES! It adds modifications that is engineered to work together as a unit, with a subtle customized look while keeping it OEM. Cosmetically, the package include a sport exhaust with black chrome tips, 10mm lower ride, and 601m style 20″ wheels. Photos don’t do the wheels justice, but in person, I think it makes the car look more aggressive. Unfortunately, the 601m’s are not forged and is actually heavier compared to style¬†343m. ¬†Mechanically, the package adds 15hp through an ECU remap, new coil springs and damper calibrations, stiffened anti-sway bars , better steering ratio, louder exhaust, and a modified M dynamic mode of its DSC program. Some¬†will argue that you can add a lot of this aftermarket for less, but I’d rather have highly paid German engineers, with Masters and PhD’s, ¬†design and calibrate the car as one package.

In comfort / eco mode, the car rides firm, but still compliant ¬†for a pothole stricken¬†city like San Francisco. Mind you that I have a high tolerance for a firm ride, but some may not. Now turn on “beast” mode (m1 or m2) by programming them to either Sport or Sport+, and the car simply transforms into something else. The throttle response, suspension damping, gear¬†shifts, and steering feels a lot sharper, firmer, and more responsive. The weight and size is still noticeable, but the power and dynamic setup make up for it.

Now let’s talk about fuel economy. One does not buy an M car for its efficiency. With that in mind, the car gets a respectable MPG¬†if you drive it conservatively or if your miles are mostly highway. For a near 600hp car, averaging 18-19 is not so bad. Below is a live feed of my fill-ups. Based on those¬†numbers, I don’t drive the car hard enough ūüôā The car is my daily driver, if I actually need to drive. I live¬†and work¬†in the city so the car is more like a weekend commuter (averaging 8,000 miles/yr).

Fuelly
Live MPG feed

Despite my content for owning this¬†car, there are a few things that BMW can¬†improve. Does the M5 need to be 4300 lb.? Why can’t they use their carbon fibre plastic goodness and sprinkle some around the car. Why can’t I option the car with carbon fibre interior trim? Why can’t the exhaust note sound better and louder when your competitor’s TT V8 can? Why¬†did BMW remove the rear-view mirror built-in compass? Why does the LED headlight seem to have a shorter range before it falls off compared to xenons. These are just a few things that I think about after¬†one year of ownership.

In summary, the F10 M5 is a super sedan that anyone can live with on a day-to-day basis. It can be your primary daily driver and also your weekend track monster.

F10 M5 LCI front view
F10 M5 LCI front view

 

Modifications

Currently the car is stock competition package. The only modification has been for protection where I installed a full front 3M clear bra. This includes full hood, front fenders, bumper, headlights, and side mirrors.

Future mods planned include 3M crystalline window film, carbon fibre interior trim, and possibly IND gloss black kidney grills and side vents.

BMW M5 LCI
BMW M5 LCI
BMW M5 with Sakhir Orange interior
BMW M5 rear quarter view
My M5 at Cars and Coffee San Francisco