Posts By: BarkM

By on December 2, 2016

1992 Nissan Altima (public domain)

I had somewhat of a unique high school experience, in the sense that it was the most after-school special, stereotypical experience possible. I went to a suburban school with just the right amount of ethnic diversity — which is to say that even the black and Hispanic and Asian kids listened to Pearl Jam and wore Ralph Lauren.

When it came to our first cars, we didn’t just go down to the local dirt lot and buy something with our savings from fast food jobs. No, we were spoiled brats who were given sensible compact to mid-sized sedans by our parents. We didn’t lust after MK II GTIs or Geo Storms — no, we sat around the lunch table in 1994 and debated the merits of the fifth-gen Honda Accord, the basic but steady Ford Taurus, and the GOAT XV10 Toyota Camry, especially the blingy “American Edition.”

As for me, I had my heart set on the recently introduced Nissan Stanza Altima.

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By on November 30, 2016

2014 Ford Focus ST Interior-006

Tommy writes:

I love reading your columns, and have a question that I think you’ll enjoy. I’ve been living in Washington, D.C. for seven years, about half of that time without a car. I’m planning on getting a raise soon, and with that, I’d like to buy a car. And not just any car, but an adult car that I can rely on to start when I need it, and not constantly have to wrench on the little things that break.

For so long now, I have wanted nothing more than a Focus ST. Everything I’ve read about them just screams to my inner child, and at 29, I think I can still listen to him because I’m not expecting a family any time soon.

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By on November 27, 2016

2016 Chrysler 300C, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

This Sunday Story is a sequel to The Genesis of Something New. If you haven’t read that one, go read it and come back. And since we haven’t done these for a while, let me put this warning up front: this is FICTION. 

“You prick. I saw your profile on Tinder. You’re a pathetic sex addict. We’re done and your wife is getting a copy of every text and picture you’ve ever sent me. HAHA BYE LOSER.”

Well, that was an interesting way to wake up.

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By on November 23, 2016

Our New Car

Remember when we didn’t know what the word “hashtag” meant? Gosh, that was nice. I recall reading one of Jack’s fiction pieces in 2012 (did I mention that Sunday Stories are coming back this weekend! YASSSS! Thank you, readers! #MakeFictionGreatAgain damn it I just used a hashtag) that was laden with hashtags and thinking, “Christ, I’m glad I have no idea what that was all about.”

Of course, it’s now 2016, and I’m busy adding #fordperformance #fordfocusrs #fors #nitrousblue to every single picture I post on Instagram in the hopes that some 15-year-old hot hatch enthusiast will get bored in study hall, find my picture, and give me the highly sought-after “like,” or, if I’m really lucky, a “follow.”

I think we can all agree this is pathetic behavior, yet everybody in the game does it. I’m not as bad as some — my social media pages are designed more to inflame the opposition than inspire loyalty — but we’re all driven to play this silly game by the OEMs, who have universally decided that having 10,000 Instagram followers means you get to have press cars delivered to your door, regardless if you have any knowledge of or about the industry.

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By on November 22, 2016

2017 Accord Hybrid

TJ writes:

Greetings Bark,

With a growing family, it’s about time for me to move out of my 2007 Frontier Crew Cab into something more family friendly. The crew cab has been great transporting our toddler, but we’re planning on having another one, and I don’t think the backseat will work for two little ones.

After a long search that has included newer midsize pickups without much more inside room, full sized cars (namely Impala, LaCrosse and Azera — nice car, horrible seats), I think I’ve settled on a V6 Accord. I have my grandfather’s old C10 for pick-up stuff once I get it running again, and my father is interested in buying my Frontier, so trade-in won’t be a problem.

I’ve test driven the Accord twice, and the dealer is absolutely pressure-free; which my wife and I appreciate. BUT…the dealer only has three V6s in stock — all standard, easy-sell black or silver. I prefer Honda’s Obsidian Blue, and the salesman said getting one shouldn’t be a problem. Am I setting myself up to get taken if I email him requesting the blue one?

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By on November 17, 2016

jackandbark

Recently, our austere Managing Editor, Mark Stevenson, asked what TTAC means to you. This is an important question, for many reasons, the most important of which may be this: every automotive blog/website has an audience, but TTAC may be the only site where the audience has such an active role in “steering the ship,” as it were.

I’ve been here for nearly five of these fifteen years as a contributor, with over 200 posts to my (dis)credit, and for considerably longer as a reader. And while you can find my writing elsewhere on occasion, TTAC is, without question, my home. I was quite pleased to see that many of you said that “Bark” was one of the things you wanted more of (well, not all of you), so I’ll do my best to live up to your high expectations.

Henry Ford once said that if he had asked people what they wanted, they would have wanted a faster horse. Well, we’re beating the holy hell out of this horse, trying to get it to giddyup. Here’s what I’ve learned about TTAC, myself, and the B&B in the process.

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By on November 15, 2016

Screen-Shot-2016-11-15-at-11.11.05-AM

Kori writes:

Hey, Bark! I’m a 37-year-old woman with a couple of financial degrees and a decade of experience in the world of money, yet I still dread going to the dealership. I know that they’re screwing me but I just don’t know how, and that’s the worst part. I don’t object to the dealer making his fair share of money (I’m a capitalist after all), but I just wish that there was a way to know how they were making that money, and where.

In your experience, where do most customers get the shaft in a car deal, and how can it be avoided?

Thanks for your question, Kori. Most customers feel uneasy about the whole purchase experience for this very reason. Let me see if I can help you feel a little better about it by breaking down the various money aspects.

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By on November 10, 2016

Trump and Clinton, Image: Image: By Donald Trump August 19, 2015 (cropped).jpg: BU Rob13Hillary Clinton by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg: Gage [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Oh, come on. Don’t be mad. You knew I was gonna bait you a little bit this week with political stuff, right?

As I was reading the dozens and dozens of posts from my friends and frienemies on the Bookface yesterday, I couldn’t help notice all the discussion about the “popular vote” vs. the “electoral vote.” Depending on which side of the aisle you sit, I’m sure you have opinions about which one is more relevant. However, automakers play the popular vs. electoral game all the time, every day of the year.

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By on November 9, 2016

money

Brian writes:

Hi Bark,

I’ve been a TTAC reader for a couple of years now and you seem to be the guy for the right advice here. The wife’s six-year-old CUV with 160,000 kilometers is showing signs of a problem that the dealer couldn’t reproduce, but said will cost upwards of $1,800 for parts (if I am right about it). This is after a different repair last year that cost over $2,000. I am wondering if now is the time to replace the car while it still has some trade value. My wife’s argument is that a repair still costs less than a year’s worth of car payments, but my counter is that a predictable car payment is easier to deal with than an unexpected large repair bill. This is especially true given our first child is due very soon.

I understand some people are serial leasers, but we tend to keep our cars well beyond warranty. So, when is the right time to replace a car?

Thanks‎!

160,000 kms? Hold up — let me get my Canadia-to-Trump calculator. Whoa — that’s only 96,000 miles! Which FCA CUV does your wife own?

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By on November 4, 2016

Ford Fiesta ST and Ford Focus RS in Bark's driveway, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

Yep, that’s my driveway. Based on my non-scientific observations and complete lack of research, I’m going to say I’m the only person in the world to have both a Ford Fiesta ST and a Ford Focus RS. Well, okay. I’m a person in the world who has a Fiesta ST and a Focus RS, which makes me uniquely qualified to compare the two.

“Hold up,” you might be saying. “Who compares a car that stickers for just over $23,000 with a car that runs $43,000 plus additional dealer markup?” (And yes, I know that you can get FiSTs for under $20,000 now. We’ll get to that.)

Well, it’s not as crazy of a comparo as you might think.

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