Posts By: Bozi Tatarevic

By on August 8, 2017

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It’s no secret that vehicle owners are becoming more hands-off when it comes to vehicle maintenance and repair. Some of that blame can be attributed to the increasing complexity of modern cars, and automakers are using that to their advantage as they attempt to make cars even more hands-off. The tool roll and spare tire you’d find in older cars have been replaced with a can of fix-a-flat and a roadside assistance card.

Changes like the disappearance of the spare tire are the result of chasing fuel economy standards, though others — like increased use of plastic engine covers — seem like the automaker’s way of telling owners they’ll need to subscribe to a service plan instead of trying to turn a wrench on their own. A recently published patent shows someone at Ford had the idea to take this to next level — so owners will never have to open the hood at all.

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By on August 7, 2017

The blower motor in my WRX seemed to be getting louder by the day and, while adding an insulation panel seemed to help, I still wasn’t satisfied. The noise was intermittent, making it hard to reproduce, though a tech working at my local dealer discovered a technical service bulletin and offered to replace it while […]

By on July 21, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

General Motors is taking the slow and steady approach when it comes to sales of the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt, which might be the right path for a highly complex new car. Reviews show it to be a well-composed vehicle with decent fit and finish but, like any new car, there are some teething issues.

Like many of the other models in its class, the Bolt’s windshield is shaped and angled to maximize the vehicle’s efficiency. It works well in most regards, but one aspect has proven troubling. In top-line Premier trim, the Bolt comes with an interior trimmed in what GM calls Light Ash Gray and Ceramic White, paired with a dashboard that is also (very) light gray in color. Due to the dash’s relatively smooth surface, this color combination causes significant glare on sunny days — to the point where certain owners don’t feel safe driving it.

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By on June 23, 2017

2017 Civic Type R (European Version), Image: Honda

The release of the Civic Type R has created a lot of buzz. The recent media launch generated plenty of opinions as to its performance, including some reviewers who believe Honda has underrated the CTR in the same manner it has done with the Accord V6 in the past.

Their speculation seemed to be proven true as a video released from a shop in Puerto Rico showed the car making 301 wheel horsepower. Many outlets reported on the dyno test and, while some showed the data with a little skepticism thrown in, others went all in and told us that the CTR has hidden horsepower.

The real truth behind the dyno test is that it is valueless. We do not have any data on its calibration or the weather, and the dyno operator could have applied any correction factor on the data to boost the results. This is not an isolated case in reporting sketchy dyno results, as I see it multiple times per month from various outlets and, in just about every case, the data and reporting are meaningless.  (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2017

Wheelchair van, Image: David Willman/Bigstock

Our Saturn Vue Hybrid decided to spring another leak recently, resulting in a jammed belt tensioner and a torn CV boot. Each of the repairs started with a laundry list of required specialty tools, making improvisation and irritation a common theme over the past few days.

While last night’s repair session resolved almost all of the Vue’s issues, as midnight approached I realized there was another leaky seal which I had not purchased. I was happy to have made some progress but irritated at being unable to finish the job completely — which meant we would have to juggle cars for another day. I walked into the house, tired and angry, and went online to check out the latest on the r/JustRolledIntoTheShop subreddit while I ate a late-night snack.

JRITS is a good subreddit for reading shop and repair stories that range from funny to infuriating. I saw a few posts and comments from people who were in predicaments similar to mine, but one comment led me to a post that showed me just how insignificant my issues were and that there are still lots of generous people out there. (Read More…)

By on June 1, 2017

Mazda MX-5 Cup Coolant Neck, Image: © 2017 Bozi Tatarevic

Our race weekend at New Jersey Motorsports park was months in the making and the MX-5 Cup car known as Marylin finally felt solid. We arrived late, so the plan was to pull the car off the trailer, complete an ABS calibration, and then head back to the hotel to get a little rest before the afternoon qualifying session.

The MX-5 had other plans and started steaming from the back of the cylinder head after the ABS test.

The qualifying session was just a few hours away and the leak appeared to be coming from an unreachable spot between the cowl and transmission bellhousing. Online diagrams showed an O-ring at the joint that was leaking but the closest Mazda dealership had none in stock. If we were home in North Carolina, the move would be to go to the sole local mom-and-pop store and raid their case full of various o-rings until we found the right one, but a quick Google search showed that all we had around us were national parts chains.

These stores had no such case and their computer system showed no rear water outlet o-ring for the MX-5. Time was running out. We had to qualify. We put the car back together and sent it out on track. When it came back, the bit of steam had turned into a waterfall coming down over the bellhousing and our race weekend looked like it had come to an end.

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By on April 6, 2017

Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Car at Long Road Racing, Image: © 2017 Bozi Tatarevic

The Global Mazda MX-5 Cup car is one of the most affordable, ready-to-race cars on the market today. The racer starts as a fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 and receives over 250 changes to become track ready. Mazda wanted the cars to be built to a single spec, so it tapped Long Road Racing to be the sole builder of the car.

I paid them a visit to see just what goes into building these race-ready roadsters.

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By on March 29, 2017

Saturn Vue Hybrid Engine Bay, Image: © 2017 Bozi Tatarevic

Last week, I noticed a new stain on the driveway in the spot where my wife parks our Saturn Vue Hybrid. A quick sniff test revealed it to be automatic transmission fluid and an inspection of the Vue showed a leak at the transmission pan gasket. The car has just crossed the 100,000 mile mark and the worn gasket decided to accelerate my plans for a transmission fluid change.

Like many modern cars, the transmission dipstick is absent on the Vue, so checking the level is not a quick task. Adding fluid is even more time consuming and requires removal and disassembly of multiple components just to get to the fill plug.

I went out and picked up a filter, gasket, and some ATF and decided to tackle the convoluted process of this transmission fluid change.

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By on March 17, 2017

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Tuners and researchers have searched for ways to pull data from cars and modify it ever since the introduction of the first on-board computer in the late 1960s. The advent of fuel injection and computer-controlled engines in the 1990s brought computerized tuning front and center. And while the OBD2 standard — made mandatory in 1996 —standardized the interface and made it easier to read diagnostics and log some parameters, modification and advanced logging was still complicated and expensive.

Professional tools and open source hardware popped up in the past decade to allow deeper access into a car’s electronics, but most ready-made products were still expensive. Open source variants also required knowledge of soldering and programming. Now, Macchina has taken the best of both worlds and packaged it into an inexpensive product that should prove useful for researchers as well as tuners. (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2017

xvi-v16

The Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse produces 1,200 horsepower from its tightly packed quad-turbocharged W16 engine. It is a modern marvel that takes four camshafts and 64 valves to move all the air needed to make this power, and it sure doesn’t come cheap.

An oil change for the Veyron costs slightly more than a new Fiesta ST and requires an engine disassembly due to the extremely tight tolerances. We aren’t likely to find a W16 for sale anytime soon and, even if one does pop up, it won’t go for less than six figures. Not to worry, as a company out of Michigan may have a much better solution — one that makes just as much power with half as many valves and no forced induction. (Read More…)

By on February 14, 2017

2008 Pontiac Solstice, Image: General Motors

General Motors has issued an airbag recall for the long-gone Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky. The recall relates to the passenger presence sensor (PPS), which may become damaged and cause the passenger airbag to not deploy during a crash.

We initially covered this issue in 2015 after noticing that complaints were piling up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and that the PPS design was similar to other models already recalled by GM. (Read More…)

By on February 9, 2017

The WRX passed the one year mark a few months ago and the odometer hasn’t stopped rolling. It’s been on a few road trips, a track day or two, and racked up another 12,000 miles since the last update in August. The new car smell might be fading, but it feels just as new as […]

By on February 2, 2017

The Impreza has been the oddball of the economy car bunch since its inception, so it’s fitting that Subaru launched the next-generation compact at the unique and peculiar Pantai Inn in La Jolla, California. The Pantai Inn features rooms decorated with Balinese art and other luxurious features, but those rooms lack some basics, such as digital TV reception and usable […]

By on January 26, 2017

Supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI® Hellcat V-8 engine produces 707 ho

Dodge dropped another Demon teaser today and many are theorizing that the license plate shown in the video might confirm all-wheel drive for the new high-performance car. The speculation is being fueled by confirmation that the Demon will wear the same size tire on all four corners, as well as a license plate displayed at the end of today’s teaser video.

The plate shows “#2576@35”, which Car and Driver speculates to mean the Demon will produce 2,576 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm at each driven wheel. While that’s a fair assumption, I believe the plate tells us something entirely different.

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By on January 16, 2017

gmmansteptitle

General Motors loves to poke at its competitors, especially when it comes to trucks. We’re all familiar with its recent barrage of ads attacking Ford for using aluminum in the F-150’s bed, but another ad from 2009 may be coming back to bite them.

The ad in question made fun of a new feature that extended a step and handle from the tailgate of the F-150. Chevrolet didn’t have anything similar at the time, so it decided instead to make an ad mocking the step and making it seem like a feature for unmanly weaklings. Chevy resurrected a similar feature in the bumpers of some trucks a few years later, though a recent set of patents shows the automaker is almost replicating the step they ridiculed eight years ago. (Read More…)

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