I enjoy your columns for their history and technology surprises of what might be wrong. Two history questions:
Since I have always been a penny pinching cheapskate and introvert I have never had an interest in large cars or silly awkward pick ups that burn lots of fuel and make lots of noise. Anyway, I don’t know what an auto Panther is or why several people at TTAC seem to remember it with fondness. Apparently the word has something to do with a frame built by Ford for many years but what is special about it and what is its history? Perhaps this could be worked in to one of your columns while helping someone with such a vehicle.
Many years ago I switched from Volkswagens to Toyotas and my life is now boring with no repair drama (or insults to my dignity from VW dealer staffs) and I haven’t been involved with auto repairs. A friend with a 2006 Prius with 90,000 miles asked me how long her car’s nickle metal hydride batteries would last out here in Phoenix’s hot sun. Any thoughts and history about this? Can the batteries be replaced with Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries?
Quite frankly, your life is boring to the point of shame. And not because you can’t comprehend Panther Love, explained and defended here and a decent year-by-year analysis given here by yours truly. But because your life never included proper American Icon.
VWs and Toyotas are fine, but there’s more to automotive life. Especially in the American South, where we pride ourselves on our proper American rides, even if they are swanga’d customizations of some of the worst machines in General Motor’s history. But the Panther is an amalgamation of the best of Americana, it’s the right sauce for many people’s palette.
Put seriously, these cars have merit even if they will never be mainstream. So if you don’t get it, don’t sweat it. It’s all good.
About the friend’s Prius: because Hybrids have a temperature control system for their battery packs, Arizona’s heat isn’t as big of a deal compared to a normal battery under the hood of a steaming hot engine. I expect for Arizona heat to tax the system more than other regions, but this article does a good job putting it into context. Maybe one of the fixes and preventative maintenance suggestions in that article will significantly extend battery life. Or–as we used to say around here–not.
So let’s wrap it up: Toyota warranties these systems for 8 years or 100,000 miles. Much like Hyundai’s insane warranties, I have little reason to doubt that Toyota did their homework. Car companies don’t usually gamble with their cash flow in such a dangerous place. With any luck, your friend has a few years of life left…fingers crossed on that.
Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.