Steering You Right with Sharon Peters:Puff, Puff, Gone

2014-02-05T08:00:00Z Steering You Right with Sharon Peters:Puff, Puff, GoneSharon L. Peters CTW Features
February 05, 2014 8:00 am  • 

Q: We have a law in our city against “puffing” – a term they use for starting your car and leaving it running in the driveway to warm it up (and that’s something that we all like to do during these sub-zero days). I can’t imagine we’re the only place in the country where puffing is illegal and, therefore, I’m stunned by the new technology on cars that makes it possible to turn on and warm up cars without even leaving the comfort of your home. Don’t car companies ever pay attention to the law?

A: The new cars that allow you to start them remotely have anti-theft technology that keeps the random stranger (or known person or teen) on the street from driving off in it. And that addresses the greatest concern that police departments have about the practice of puffing: stolen cars absorb a lot of time, attention and resources in most departments, and they’d like to avoid that when possible. Also, it should be said, it’s not unheard of for a child or a young teen to leap into a running vehicle and careen around the streets, putting others at grave risk.

Think the odds of a would-be thief happening across an unmanned, running vehicle and making off with it are small? On one recent frigid December day in Denver, according to media reports, six cars that were left running but unattended in driveways or parking lots were stolen. Thieves patrol the streets during the winter months looking for the trail of exhaust, and if the vehicle is empty, they’re in and off in seconds.

The term puffing, by the way, came from car thieves, who cruise cold streets looking for the telltale puff of white exhaust blasting out of unoccupied cars.

Q: We’re looking at the Cadillac Escalade. What are comparable vehicles, in price and size and luxury, that we should test-drive to make sure we’re making the best choice?

A: I’d suggest checking out the Infiniti QX80 and also the Mercedes-Benz GL450. All start at between $65,000 and $69,000 and are big, comfy, luxury SUVs.

© CTW Features

What’s your question? Sharon Peters would like to hear about what’s on your mind when it comes to caring for, driving and repairing your vehicle. Email

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