By on May 12, 2017

1979 Lincoln Continental Collector's Series with Tom Selleck,Image: Old Car Brochures

TTAC Commentator Towncar writes:

I have some piddling little aggravations and head-scratchers, and it appears those serve to entertain the B&B as well as anything.

  1. Black Pillars: When and why did the black B-pillar take over the world? Presumably it’s to make you think it’s not there and the car’s a hardtop, but there’s never been a single case where that worked — not one. Even on a black car, the finish is sufficiently different that you can tell the pillar is present.
  2. Colors: Why are there no good interior colors anymore — red, blue, green? The only current one I know of, fairly recent, is the Rhapsody in Blue interior on the new Continental, and you have to buy the ultra-highline Black Label edition to get it. Which brings up the question: why do so few interiors really match anymore? It used to be that two-tone interiors looked designed that way, but now they just seem to have been put together from parts for different cars.
  3. Gas Fillers: Have any of the fool engineers who put gas fillers on the passenger’s side ever tested this concept out by going through a gas line backwards? (By the way, this pertains to the G6 convertible you advised me to buy about four years ago, and belated thanks, it’s generally great.)
  4. Wipers: Why has the old-fashioned opposed (clap hands) style come back of late years? I saw some kind of little Ford with this lately, and I think a Honda or two. And pertaining to the newer parallel style, what determines which side the wipers “point” to?  It’s almost always the passenger’s, but I can think of two cars having them point the other way — the suicide-door Continentals of the ’60s and the Avanti. Why?
  5. TPMS: OK, this is actually semi-serious. How good are these things? The G6’s dash display gives pressures, but seldom agrees with my trusty tire gauge at the best of times, and changes in temperature and even bumps in the road sometimes trigger the warning light. Can the sensors be adjusted and/or calibrated for accuracy? And are the retrofit kits you can buy for older cars any good?

Sajeev answers:

Your queries are well explained, so let’s get my answers out of the way so the Best and Brightest can also chime in, in a timely manner.

  1. Blacked out pillars give almost any car (save for pre-’98 Town Cars) a sleeker, less architectural look. Snazzier cars benefit from chrome B-pillars to integrate the greenhouse’s chrome perimeter. It’s a good thing to integrate the DLO (daylight opening) with integrated pillars, especially when the space between the glass is thin. (i.e. not the initially crappy long-wheel base Town Car)
  2. At some point, the market for old-school levels of color saturation — where everything from the headliner to the carpets were Ivy Green, Porno Red or Turd Brown — will come back. But we need to see such saturation elsewhere before the car business takes note. If bright colors show up in fashion, product design, etc., it will eventually come to more vehicles than the mega-blue Continental.
  3. Many of my cars have filler necks on the passenger side, and I fail to see the problem. Maybe a government-mandated location would help, but is that necessary? For me, Houston is nicely spread out, so it’s usually very easy to find an open pump on the “other side” of the station, sans backing up to one.
  4. The “Clapping” wipers are probably back because windshields are super long in today’s age of cab-forward design and super rakish rooflines, and probably because I reckon they clean more surface area directly in front of the driver’s line of sight, compared to the other style on vehicles you mentioned. To wit, the “parallel” style wipers must point to the passenger side to ensure there isn’t a huge semi-circular space of glass right in front of the driver’s face that remains unwiped.
  5. I had a TPMS sensor warn me of a slow leak on the highway, ensuring I was not surprised when parked/left/returned to a flat tire. I think these things are great, if annoying for the reasons mentioned.

Your thoughts, Best and Brightest?

[Image: Old Car Brochures]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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102 Comments on “Piston Slap: Car Design Grab Bag!...”


  • avatar
    dal20402

    “Clapping” wipers are fantastic for cars with tall windshields. My C-Max has them and they wipe essentially all of the windshield except for a little section directly behind the rearview mirror.

    • 0 avatar
      smallblock

      I have these on my Focus ST – I like them except for 1 thing:
      When I put new wiper blades on, the rubber was so sticky that the wiper pivoting on the passenger side would clean the windshield well enough that the driver’s side wiper would get stuck. It’s basically a requirement to use Rain-X or at least a washer fluid containing it to prevent this. Maybe next time I’ll try different wipers as well. The NAPA blades don’t have any friction reducing coatings or compound, but they clear the windshield very well.

    • 0 avatar
      GS 455

      Why the hell can’t they put two wipers on the rear window of SUVs/CUVs?
      When roads are really dirty it would greatly improve rear visibility. All they give us one sh***y little wiper that clears a useless little half moon of window and combined with massive D pillars you can’t see a damned thing out back.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Weimer

        IIRC, the 92-95 Camry wagons had two.

        For that matter, why can’t *sedans* have a rear window wiper? Why is it only a wagon/hatchback/SUV thing?

        I know they do it in Japan, so why not here.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Yes, the wagon had two on the rear window. That generation Camry didn’t spare expense in any area, so the cost of two wipers was just the then-Toyota way. Today I am amazed had how many SUV rear wipers sweep such a small percentage of the glass area. I guess if they are not forced to design to a standard, you get what you get.

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff Weimer

            They design to a standard, for sure. It’s just not the standard you’re thinking of. Cost-to-produce is a standard.

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      The Saab 99 had opposite-direction wipers too.

      My favorite wipers will always be those on the 1960s Panhard 24 coupe which did a wonderfully hypnotic choreographed dance across your windshield:

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    3) The logic behind the gas filler being on the passenger side is that if you run out of gas, it’s safer to refill it from the side of the car that’s away from traffic. I personally prefer the passenger side filler, as I don’t have to worry about my door smacking something at the pump when I get out.

    4) Clap hands wipers have made a comeback on certain models that are offered in both LHD and RHD markets because it’s one less thing automakers have to re-engineer. I dislike them because they all seem to operate slower than parallel wipers do.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      >> it’s safer to refill it from the side of the car that’s away from traffic.

      I’ve heard similarly. The joke is that if you run out of gas at the edge of a ravine…

      But those were the good old days. Nowadays, it doesn’t matter. And like a few other commenters here, I like it on the passenger side because in my area, most cars have the filler on the driver side, making my line shorter.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The other reason for putting the fuel filler on the passenger side is that it reduces the likelihood of a fuel spill in a situation where an oncoming car sideswipes another. No chance of pulling the filler neck out of the tank if it is on the other side.

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    I actually prefer the passenger side fuel filler location. If it’s on the driver’s side, you can whack your car door against either the pump or the concrete / steel safety barricades they put next to the pump.

    Costco has the best setup. The fuel hoses are extra long so you can fuel the car from either side.

    • 0 avatar
      cls12vg30

      Similar situation at BJ’s with the long hoses, and the pumps are meant to be one-way, as in everybody pulls in from the same direction. This setup makes my passenger-side filler great, because most other drivers are waiting for a pump on their driver’s side (they don’t know about the long hoses and can’t read the signs that describe them). Meanwhile I pull straight up to a passenger-side pump.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      I was going to mention Costco too. Both of my cars have them on the right side and those lines always seem shorter than the ones with cars that have them on the left.
      However, I would never drape the hose over my car for fear of damaging the paint. So I’ll wait in the correct line.

    • 0 avatar
      eManual

      Consumer Reports in the 1970’s would downgrade cars that had fillers on the left side, calling it a safety issue. I don’t recall any CR discussion about filling gas on the side of the road. IIRC, they said that many T-bone accidents occur on the left side. At that time, the Ford Pinto was known for gas filler tube problems in accidents, although mostly from the rear.

      • 0 avatar
        la834

        So many cars from the ’70s and earlier had fuel fillers in the back. What happened to them? There were gas caps hidden behind taillights, license plates, trim panels, or just in plain view.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          It was a safety issue — a rear end collision could cause the filler tube to pinch off or break off completely, resulting in a fire or explosion.

          Also, as mentioned elsewhere, the fuel tank has migrated from under the trunk floor to underneath the back seat. A rear filler tube now would take up space in the trunk.

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      I think it may have something to do with the fact that the driver is on the other side of the car in Japan.

  • avatar
    CobraJet

    I’m with you regarding the interior colors. I don’t like the neutral grays and tans of today, and would never want a black interior. Can’t see a thing in them at night. Light from dome lights just get swallowed up in the black. Give me some lighter greens and blues please.

    I always wondered about the old Lincolns and their wipers that faced the wrong way. Thought maybe they were designed for a right-hand driving position like some British makes.

    • 0 avatar
      ACCvsBig10

      Interiors are my biggest gripe. Any time you buy a sport package trim immediately everything get black out on the inside especially the seats. Mismatched headliners and pillar colors with the car upholstery.

      • 0 avatar
        eManual

        I don’t understand why people like dark interiors, unless they live under constant cloud cover or in the frozen north. Yes, they hide spills better, but my 1995 and 2000 MY car interiors look almost new, and that includes the years my children were being raised.

        • 0 avatar
          Willyam

          I do, but it’s more “cozy” to me. I recognize not everyone does, and I think I’m in the minority. One of my first auto lusts was the neighbors 76 Thunderbird, which they wanted me to have when I got my license. It had the full Jade package (green everything, interior as well) and I imagined that 460-powered green cave as my personal battleship and dating limo. When my dad heard the words “four hundred sixty…” it was all over.

          Of course now I have kids, and the Grand Cherokee I bought from my dad has a “Taupe” leather and plastic interior. I have spent literally hours attempting to clean it where it doesn’t look like the inside of a dingy fast-food restaurant to no avail. On many of my replacement-bits trips to pull-a-part, I’ve begun to consider swapping a black interior from a donor.

          • 0 avatar
            eManual

            I understand the cleaning problem of light interiors. I purchased the 2000 new, and the 1995 was professionally cleaned before I received it from my Dad. You may wish to spend the ~$200 – $300 instead of interior replacement.

            I like Manuals but try finding a new one that doesn’t have a black interior! I’ve also contemplated a trip to the yard to change to a lighter interior. And for new cars with automatics, try finding one that isn’t black at a dealer… your choice of black interiors is IMHO a majority, not minority. Even looking to purchase in Texas and drive home, light interiors are hard to find!

      • 0 avatar
        Acd

        Black interiors are deal breakers for me even when I like everything else about the car. I’m trying to talk myself into a GTI with the plaid cloth seats but if it came in beige or even dark blue leather there would already be one in my driveway.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheatridger

          I feel your pain. I wasn’t sure if I could stand my Mk V GTI’s black headliner, but now I don’t even notice it. My sunroof helps, of course. On the road the absence of bright interior surfaces leaves my eyes undistracted from the sights outside the car. And, oh, those plaid seats! Comfortable, supportive, adjustable, heated and comfy cloth. Totally unique, and GTI-specific.

          So I’m happy with my black interior. But I’d never choose a black exterior color too, it’s not the image I want to project. Give me the wider color palette of the Euro VWs, please, someday, maybe?

  • avatar
    Feds

    Fuel fillers also somewhat correlate with country of origin (at least in my experience): Japanese cars tend to have them on the right, and US cars tend to have them on the left. For the same reason that the door on my Grand Vitara swings to the curb here in North America

    That said, maybe we should go back to behind-the-license-plate filler necks. That way it’s fair for everyone.

    • 0 avatar
      Tomifobia

      It would be more fair, but rear-mounted fillers are far more vulnerable in a crash.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Weimer

        And gas tanks are almost never under the trunk anymore, they’re under the back seat for crash protection.

        • 0 avatar
          Tomifobia

          Or, in the case of several old FoMoCo products, the trunk floor itself.

          http://www.oldcarsweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/1970-Spoiler-trunk.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            skor

            That design goes back to the Falcon. The Ford Falcon was the brainchild of Robert McNamara, whose first grownup job was as an efficiency expert working out logistical problems for the US Army during WWII. After the war he got hired by Fomoco to modernize their production methods. The Falcon was all about building it as cheap as possible. The Falcon dash had only one
            turn signal indicator, for both sides. You knew that a turn signal was on, but you had to look, or feel , at the stalk position to know which side was on. The gas tank design was also about making it cheap. Instead of using a proper sheet metal trunk floor with the tank mounted underneath, the trunk floor had a large cut-out. The gas tank had a flange that ran around the top. The tank fit into the cut-out in the trunk floor and rested on the flange. The flange was then bolted to the trunk floor. As seen in the link to the .jpg you provided, the top of the gas tank became the trunk floor. This design was used in the Falcon and just about everything the Falcon begat, including the Comet, Fairlane, Mustang, Cougar, Maverick, etc, up until the 1970s when the Feds told them to knock it off. It was a great design in terms of efficiency, unfortunately, if such a car was hit from behind, the gas tank burst spewing gasoline into the trunk. The ensuing inferno didn’t take very long to burn through the foam and fabric of the rear seat and incinerate the occupants of the passenger compartment.

            BTW, in 1961 McNamara left Fomoco to become Secretary of Defense for the newly elected Kennedy Administration. McNamara is generally acknowledged as being the architect of the Vietnam War where he attempted to use his efficiency know-how to beat the communist guerrillas. It was McNamara who cooked up the infamous ‘Kill Ratio” metric.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      I used to think that but both my ’00 Mustang and ’17 Escape have the filler on the right. I’m pretty sure that gen Mustang was never made in a RHD format. But it does seem most Japanese designed compacts have it on the right.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Weimer

        Not a compact, but my 1G Honda Pilot door was on the left. And so was my ’83, ’97, and ’91 Accords.

        Here’s a bunch of 80’s Civics – all on the left side.

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/curbside-classic-when-hondas-mojo-was-working-1980-1983-honda-civic/

        It’s a random engineering/design decision.

        • 0 avatar
          psychoboy

          I believe virtually every Honda has had the filler on the left side of the vehicle.

          Even my ancient RHD Hondas are left fill:
          http://www.flickriver.com/photos/psychoboy_okc/2344905168/

  • avatar
    d4rksabre

    The lead image is deeply satisfying. Now I’m in the right mood for my Friday.

  • avatar
    Rnaboz

    My Triumph Spitfire had the fuel filler on top of the trunk behind the rear bulkhead, very effective.

    MINI has interior colors in Blue, Burgundy, as well as black, grey, oak, truffle.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Fun fact: you can predict the location of the gas door with 99% accuracy by looking at the exhaust pipes – they are on opposite sides of the car. (Don’t ask me about center mounted pipes or cars with pipes on both sides!.)

    I think it was GM who bragged that the clapper wipes covered x% more window when they introduced them on some model – probably the venture/transport/etc. vans

    It always amuses me at Costco when people get into longer lines because they don’t realize the hoses can reach either side of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      just look at the gas pump icon on the gauge, it has an arrow telling you which side the fill neck is on.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Not always true. I recently took my new (to me) car in for its first fill up. Wasn’t sure which side the neck was on, and there was no icon.

      • 0 avatar
        spookiness

        Not all cars have this. And while on some cars the location of the pump nozzle on the pump icon on the gauge corresponds to the side of the car the gas cap is on, this is not consistently executed.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          I don’t need no icon: when I open the driver’s door, I look at the rear of that side. If there’s no filler opening, it’s on the other side of the car. As Yogi once said, “You observe by watching.”

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @Lorenzo – yeah but if you are a fleet driver who is constantly being thrown the keys to something new you tend to forget. The icon is helpful.

            In a few week period while working for our central office I drove a Taurus, Journey, Tahoe, & Jimmy. My DD was an F150 at the time.

        • 0 avatar
          la834

          There is also that Mercedes, think it was a van or SUV – that used the gauge cluster from another previously existing Benz and nobody noticed until after they were for sale that the arrow was pointing the wrong direction from where the gas flap was on the vehicle the gauge panel was transplanted to. They had to recall them to fix it.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGrieves

      At our local Costco the attendants direct cars to the pumps. If one line gets too long, he/she will block the way and tell the driver to go to another line. I’ve seen some people refuse to move over and actually start yelling at the attendant.

      I get why they do this. Costco sells so much gas there would be ridiculous bottlenecks of people trying to get through. But – it amazes me there are some people who absolutely refuse to perform the “reach over” maneuver with the fuel hose.

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        What’s more annoying is the fact that one of my cars opens the gas flap automatically, while another is opened by an inside lever. These little things can make a big difference in owner satisfaction….

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          My fleet.

          Highlander – Driver’s side, interior lever to pull up to open.

          Terrain – passenger side and a magnetic push latch.

          F150 – locking gas cap on driver’s side, remember to pull the keys out of the ignition because that’s where the gas cap key is attached.

          Mustang – rear filler, unscrew the galloping horse.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            That’s an older Mustang. That was a nice touch, and the location is higher than behind the license, BUT… It was the Pinto that forced automakers to move the gas tank behind and under the rear seat for crash safety (and lawsuit avoidance), even though the Pinto gas filler was on the left side. I’ve found no regulation against the rear filler, the tank relocation made it impractical.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      Dodge made the filler easy to spot by chrome plating it and making it huge. They also wrote “fuel” on it in case you aren’t sure what goes in there.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    #2 is most assuredly cost reasons. fewer options cost less for the automaker to manage, and you minimize the number of “incompatible” combinations e.g. bright red interior in a green car.

    #4 as has been said, it’s so you don’t have to reverse the wiper mechanisms for LHD and RHD versions of a car/truck. The Mustang doesn’t have “clapper” wipers and had to have a reverse set designed for the RHD version.

  • avatar
    Higheriq

    The invention of TPMS can be attributed to the Ford Explorer Firestone tire debacle of several years ago. It was/is another invention to help placate people who are too lazy to check their tire pressure regularly.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      “It was/is another invention to help placate people who are too lazy to check their tire pressure regularly.”

      Aka 99% of the driving public (including car enthusiasts). TPMS has its faults, but hard to argue against its merits.

      Also the big issue with the Explorer/Firestone debacle wasn’t that consumers were letting the tire pressure get to low…Ford’s tire pressure recommendation was too low.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        >> Aka 99% of the driving public (including car enthusiasts)

        I have to agree. It’s a pain to do when parked outside, in the city, during winter, when it’s dark outside, and you’re parked uphill, both ways!

        Only half joking, and your hands end up filthy! And then you notice a smell and realize a dog has peed on your tire.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        No it was the Firestone tires that were crap. They didn’t recall the same models that had Goodyear tires and the fact is that it was one particular plant that some of the tires came from that resulted in the majority of failures. The worst Firestone plant produced tires that had 3x the failure rate of the best Firestone plant that was still at least 2x as likely to experience a tire failure as the Goodyears.

    • 0 avatar
      Yankee

      Agreed. Anytime the government gets involved in car design we have problems (remember motorized seatbelts or the first-generation, rushed-to-market airbags that did more harm than good?). I for one hate TPMS sensors and would take them out of any car I bought. As a mechanic I’ve seen several of the metal valve stems corrode and blow apart on customers, and I even had one blow apart on me when I touched an air gauge to it. Then you have the problem of the batteries going bad all the time (customers really hate the expense of that one). Why don’t all automakers go back to using the wheel speed sensors for warning of a low tire? Since you have to have a gauge of some sort to fill a tire anyway, what is the value of displaying the psi on the dashboard (assuming it’s even correct) given the cost, complexity, and failure-prone nature of the components to make it happen? The simple wheel speed sensors that are already there for ABS and traction control can easily pick up one wheel spinning consistently faster over a given time and signal low tire pressure in that wheel via the smaller diameter.

      • 0 avatar
        dawooj

        Some manufacturers have gone to ABS wheel speed sensor based indirect TPMS systems as of late. From personal experience, both the VW Golf and most Hondas have gone this route.

      • 0 avatar
        la834

        The problem with using the wheel revolving speed to determine low air pressure is that it usually won’t catch if two tires on the same axle are both low, a condition that often results from not checking the air pressure for a long time and/or lowering temperatures in the autumn.

      • 0 avatar
        Spike_in_Brisbane

        I imagine that Nascars would have a warning light permanently on. (Turn left, turn left, turn left)

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    Top engine, drive line, suspension or brake systems that require the ultra black or “midnight” premium interior package with a sunroof. I don’t see why beefier underpinnings require a nav system made obsolete by my iPhone. I guess when everybody is financing for 84 months at near 0%, the extra $5K in interior options are not recognized by the general public.

    Color options other than 10 different white to black color spectrum choices. ….wait, is white to black even a color?

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      Car makers have updated Henry Ford’s mantra “any color as long as its black” and added white, gray and silver.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I was pricing F150s recently (idly, no plans to replace my SuperDuty).

      “Oh, you want the 3.73 rear? Sorry, have to remove the nice interior package and parking sensors.

      Why? Because fuck you, that’s why.”

      (I suspect it could be custom ordered from a dealer, though, just not configurated online.)

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    Indirect systems that use ABS/ESC wheel speed sensors are cheaper but don’t provide actual pressure information.

    The TPMS thing is interesting to me. The only time the TPMS sensors in my RX-8 read differently from my tire gauge was when my tire gauge was bad (and read 2 psi higher than my TPMS sensors and everybody else’s gauge at the track).

    I haven’t noticed the pressure sensor-based system in my ‘8 triggering on anything other than pressure changes. The indirect system in my CX-3 has triggered a few times when going over bumps under power. This is probably because it notices wheel slipping in the bounce and thinks the rotation differential is due to pressure loss.

    Changes in temperature cause changes in pressure because PV=nRT. The general rule of thumb is that you lose ~1psi for every 10°F decrease.

    At a bare minimum, TPMS systems have to register a 25% reduction from normal pressure in 20 minutes. However, nothing says they can’t be more sensitive than that.
    https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/49/571.138

  • avatar
    jhefner

    TPMS sensor thoughts:

    Positives — besides letting you monitor a slow leak; the Nissans (and probably others) will honk at you when you are inflating the tires and reach the correct pressures; a nice feature.

    Negative — as the batteries get weak, they generate false positives — I am talking about the older ones that only light a light on the dash when the tires are low. The TPMS system in our 2007 Durango have done this as long as we have owned it; so now I ignore it.

    Also, the TPMS air valves with the built in sensors are pretty expensive to replace. You have to replace the entire sensor, you cannot just change the battery.

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      The dash display on my RX-8 only gives a light but I can query the sensor status via OBD-II to get the pressures and temperatures at each wheel.

      Also, the TPMS valve cores should be replaceable for only a few dollars. At least, they are on my ‘8 and my old G37x.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      … I can’t quite decide if “honk when it’s inflated properly” is awesome or the most annoying thing on Earth.

      Well played, Nissan.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        It would have helped with the 1st gen Rouge that my parents rented a few years back. One of the idiots at Enterprise had inflated one of the tires to 72 psi.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          must have been the same guy who cranked the lug nuts on my SRT-4 down to like 400 ft-lbs.

          • 0 avatar
            CobraJet

            The Explorer tire fiasco was when I started carrying a tire gauge in my carry-on satchel when I fly on trips. Rental car companies are all bad about maintaining tire pressure on their vehicles. If I am getting on the highway for high speed travel, I stop at the first opportunity and check the tires. Not as big a deal now with tire sensor read-outs, assuming I can find the right buttons.

            As an aside, I began to get hassled by the TSA agents about the tire gauge going through the x-ray. I switched to an aluminum gauge from the heavy chrome plated one and have never been asked about it since.

    • 0 avatar
      Spike_in_Brisbane

      Another negative, I have a Kawasaki Concours with TPMS. It once saved my bacon in Irvine by warning me in time for me to pull over. My tyre was pancake flat within a minute.
      But I brought the bike back to Australia where the batteries finally went flat. New sensors in Oz use a different radio frequency and will not talk to the dash. The frequency used in the US is required by Defence forces in Oz. I cannot get anyone in the US to send me a new set since the batteries are not supposed to fly in aircraft cargo bays.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    DRIVERS SIDE FILLERS! I’m so anti passenger side that the location on the passenger side will make me reconsider a vehicle that is other wise “perfect” for me.

    My TPMS is sensitive too and unfortunately mine is the “stupid” kind where there are no pressures displayed just the ! inside a tire when something is wrong. That’s why my digital pressure gauge in the glove box is my friend.

    I’ll take chrome accents on the door pillars again although few modern vehicles look right with the aftermarket ones. I’d like to see them designed in from the git-go.

    I’m so desperate for contrasting colors my next vehicle will be brand new and likely ordered just so I can get say a caramel/saddle/shade of brown interior and some complementary exterior color. I’m seeing way too many sedans in dealer inventory that have black leather interiors and black exteriors. It’s like driving an S&M dungeon on wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      Phil in Englewood

      Absolutely agree on the fashion for black interiors. Even cars that claim to have a tan interior have tan seating surfaces and black carpeting and black seat backs. In the Florida sun black just makes hot even hotter and claustrophobic. S&M dungeon indeed – no thanks. Who makes a true light-colored interior any more? Anybody? Bueller?

  • avatar
    Hoon Goon

    As a rule, the fuel filler is located on the driver’s side of the country of manufacture.

    You can tell the US built Hondas, Yodas, etc. because their fillers are on the US driver’s side.

    I am glad I don’t have to worry about gas lines where I live. I just pull up and get gas.

    • 0 avatar
      gomez

      Not true. Honda and Toyota tend to put on the left side of the vehicle, regardless of where it is made, with a few exceptions. Subaru puts the filler on the right side despite all of their models except BRZ being built in US. GM tends to put on the right side for cars but on the left side for trucks and SUVs, with a few exceptions. Ford is consistently inconsistent.

    • 0 avatar
      psychoboy

      Nissan seems to have an even split.

      Hardbody and 720 on the right, Frontier on the left.
      Z31 on the right, Z32 on the left, 350/370 back on the right.
      all the 240s on the right, most all of the maximas on the left.

      I’m not sure what their method is, but it might just be madness.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @psychoboy: “Nissan seems to have an even split”

        Even more even than you thought. On the Leaf, the charging port is in the nose dead center. Other makes went with gasser protocol and you have to back the car into charging spaces. With the Leaf, you just switch to the nose camera view and drive right in.

        I don’t think they necessarily did it for driver convenience though. That’s where the onboard charger is located, so it’s the least amount of cabling.

        Some charging stations have really long cables – especially compared to gasoline hoses. You can actually hook up the car even if you’re parked a couple of spaces away.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Holy crap! Is that Thomas Magnum stepping out of the Mark V? Is that Robin Masters’ other car?

    • 0 avatar
      Johnster

      Yup, that’s him. Before hitting it big in “Magnum, P.I.,” Tom Selleck had a lot of small roles and side gigs as a model.

      Maybe Lincoln should get him back to promote the new Continental. Couldn’t hurt.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Personally, I want the exterior of my car to look like a Skittle and the interior to be ‘Spinal Tap’ levels of black*.

    *Jaguars excluded. For those I want something lighter and a forest of wood.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      ‘Spinal Tap’ levels of black*.

      It’s like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none. None more black.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        None more black? Some Brits have something called Vantablack (and another more practical version) which comes up seemingly at black hole levels of black. (Sorry, tinyurl doesn’t like this string.)

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9v0_fID_jvA

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I like the interiors in Volvos these days, with the light colors and the light-colored woods. Very Scandinavian.

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      Volvo is in the process of taking the Best Interior title away from Audi. They are very inviting and make the idea of being stuck in traffic in one much more bearable.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        I remain deeply pleased with my (tan interior, dark brown leather) XC70.

        The only negative is that I’m a heathen who drives with his elbow up on the door sill, and thus there’s a dark spot from coats and skin oils, which is *impossible* to properly clean*.

        (* Trying with, evidently, the wrong stuff has left a cleanish-spot that is … softer than the surrounding plastic. So I’ve given up.

        That is, naturally, user error.)

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Have to agree, especially on the new S90. There’s someone near my work who has a new one, and figured that it had to be a $70K+ car. Nope, starts at $45K for a huge sedan with an amazing interior.

  • avatar
    Tumbling-Dice

    The pillars are painted black because it looks better. Whether or not it looks like a hardtop is a secondary concern. With the way cars are styled today, leaving the painted pillars would probably look dated and/or cheap on most cars, like a square-body Panther or a cheap car from India.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      A good point of comparison: the PT Cruiser and the Chevy HHR. Even within the context of a retro-’30s/’40s design, the blacked out B-pillar on the PT Cruiser looks better to my eyes.

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    I would like someone to confirm in definite terms, just what those little rubber tabs were on the leading edge of the front window frame about two thirds up the A pillar on many Japanese cars and some American cars in the 90’s. Think 90-93 Accord, 95 Lumina and on and on. Some cars even had them on the leading edge of the rear windows as well. If they were there to disrupt wind flow around a partially opened window, then show your work by proving it, and I’ll eat my bonnet.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      I want to say it was for the flush-mounted “aircraft-style” windows to seat correctly when closing.

    • 0 avatar
      psychoboy

      The cars you mention have framed door glasses, but the glass sits very flush to those frames. On the Hondas, they are all but outside of the metal frame along the top and leading edge, the only thing past them is the very outer edge of the rubber seal, and that tab.

      Those tabs did one basic thing with three benefits:
      1) they helped guide the window against the seal as it closed, tucking the edge of the glass into the lip of the rubber.
      2) they helped lock the glass into the channel once it was closed…
      2.1) this prevented the glass from buffeting out at highway speeds, due to the low pressure area as the wind makes the corner at the a-pillar (and any vacuum created in the shadow of the mirror)
      2.2) this prevented the glass from being pried out of the channel by theft-oriented people.

      Based on how often the Hondas of that era found their way onto the top stolen cars list, it would seem 2.2 was less than effective.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        GM definitely could have used those little guides on their flush glass designs of the 90s. The 90s Camaro Z28 was tested by Car and Driver and above 150 mph the door glass tried to pull outward away from the car.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    I don’t understand why parallel wipers are considered a “newer” design. We had two 1965 Bonnevilles when I was a kid, with the “clapping hands” type; the full-size 1965 Chevrolets, with identical windshields, used the parallel type.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      Way back in the 1930’s most cars had flat windshields and one windshield wiper. Then two-piece windshields started to be used, and these needed two wipers. That’s how the clap-hands setup got started. It wasn’t until one-piece curved windshields had been in use for quite a few years that we started to see parallel wipers.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    Regarding the fuel filler location, I think that auto stylists tend to put the filler on the side AWAY from the driver. The reason is simply that the vehicle’s lines look cleaner on the side that the driver approaches.

    For more utilitarian vehicles, it doesn’t matter, and either way could be done.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    As far as interior colors are concerned, I’m convinced that green, orange, and yellow plaid isn’t coming back. As far as exterior colors are concerned, there will be no change until all those people who like silver die off.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    Two things:

    I prefer the black pillar.

    And what circumstance would ever lead to going through a gas line backwards? Not that reversing into a spot is difficult or anything, but is this a thing instead of waiting in line?

  • avatar
    vvk

    The proper location of the fuel filler is on the curb (passenger) side. This way you don’t have to stand on the road if you have to add fuel. Isn’t it obvious? That’s why many Japanese cars have it on the left side — they drive on the left, so that is their curb side.

  • avatar
    Hooligans

    Hi guys. I’m coming in late but just have to ask… So much of this commentary has centered on gas fillers. I live in rural Alaska and have never experienced “gas lines”. Is this common? I’ve also lived in Austin, Texas and didn’t experience this, but perhaps that’s because I gassed up at corner stores as oppsed to waiting in line for cheaper gas. Just curious..

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    I think I can answer all of these, if someone hasn’t already:

    1.) It’s cheaper to paint all the B-pillars in black (rather than in different colors); it also does fool people some of the time into thinking it’s a cleaner look.

    2.) It’s cheaper to have only one interior color that kind of goes with everything–grey, beige, black–than to have several.

    3.) Actually, from Consumer Reports, I remember reading that a collision is less likely on the right side (in America) than on the left. Maybe this isn’t because it’s cheaper.

    4.) It’s cheaper on models sold in both left- and right-drive markets (like the Ford Fiesta, Focus and Fusion/Mondeo) to have only one wiper setup rather than two for the same car.

    5.) I have no idea. It’s cheaper on the cars that I have owned not to have tire pressure monitors.

    See a pattern?


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