Category: Editorials

By on August 29, 2016

1996 Nissan Maxima GXE in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Maxima has been with us since the 1981 Datsun 810 Maxima, which became the Datsun Maxima, then the Datsun Maxima by Nissan, and finally the Nissan Maxima.

Starting out as a Z-car-based sporty sedan, it grew into an electronic-gadget-packed luxury sedan, then became bigger, more powerful, and less crazy with each successive generation until we arrived at the current competent-but-not-particularly-exciting Maxima.

The fifth-generation Maxima, made for the 1994 through 1999 model years, seems to be the last for which the manual-transmission option was selected by a significant minority of buyers; you could get one after 1999, but I never see anything but automatics in my junkyard travels.

Here’s a mean-looking ’96 that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard. Read More >

By on August 26, 2016

Jeep Compass Combo Car, Black River Stages, Image: © 2016 Justin Hughes

Editor’s Note: Yes, yes, I know there weren’t many reader submissions posted this week — but fear not! We are working our way through the wave of emails. Thank you all for sharing. Next up: Justin Hughes of RightFootDown.com wringing every last horsepower possible out of a rental Compass. Enjoy! —Mark

What do you do with a car that wants so badly to be an off-road vehicle, but can’t actually go off-road?

Take it to a rally.

Read More >

By on August 25, 2016

Niedermeyer shares some truth with the PBS NewsHour

As we reported just the other day, analysts are somewhat confused by the continued rise of used car prices to near-record highs, despite a flood of lease returns hitting the market.

This just goes to show you the stupidity of most people who call themselves “analysts.” There’s absolutely no reason to think that used car pricing will go anywhere but up in the near future. If these analysts had ever spent a single day in a used car department at a franchise dealership, they’d understand why. Unfortunately, they haven’t.

But guess what? Your friend Bark has! And I’m here to tell you why this used car bubble isn’t going to pop any time soon.

Read More >

By on August 25, 2016

neon

“Should I start racing with NASA, or should I build a car for SCCA?” That used to be the most common question that I heard from would-be novice racers. Nowadays, though, those two sanctioning bodies aren’t even in the picture. Today’s novice racer is looking at LeMons, Chump, WRL, and my personal favorite, American Endurance Racing. It’s easy to understand why. If you start racing with the SCCA or NASA, you’ll either need to be capable of doing everything yourself soup-to-nuts, or you’ll need a crew, whether volunteer or paid.

With the new endurance-racing series, you get five other dudes together (or, in the case of my AER team, four other dudes and one chick) and — PRESTO! — you’ve got a team, a crew, and a way to split the expenses six ways instead of, uh, one way. I know a fair number of people who have left NASA or SCCA to focus exclusively on street-tire enduros, but I’m not ready to follow them just yet. I like sprint races. I like being solely responsible for my success (or failure) on the track. I hate not being able to split the costs but I also like the fact that cars last a lot longer when you run them two hours a weekend instead of twenty.

This weekend, NASA is holding a race at Mid-Ohio. Danger Girl will be there driving her Fiesta in HPDE since her race car is still being prepped in Memphis. I’ll be there as well, to help her out a bit, say hi to people, and serve as random crew for people who need a hand. But I won’t be racing, because I’ve been banned. And, I have to say, it was my fault.

Read More >

By on August 25, 2016

2002 Honda Accord, 6th Generation, Image: American Honda

Pete writes:

Mark,

I know you are a busy man, but I am confident the B&B have been waiting with bated breath to learn how I plan to solve my car dilemma associated with moving from Tampa to Ottawa.

To recap, I will be moving for a three-year stint to Ottawa and bringing my ’98 Honda Accord with 180,000 miles on the odometer. My wife’s ’04 Honda Accord will stay in Tampa and serve as her transportation during the tax seasons.

Here is what I have decided (based largely on the advice you and the B&B provided).

Read More >

By on August 25, 2016

1991-Cadillac-Fleetwood-Brougham-black-b

TTAC commentator SavageATL writes:

I have a 1991 Cadillac Brougham, the old rear-wheel-drive model. The car was sitting for a long time, and it has a Chevy 305 with bad valve seals. Lesson: beware of low-low-mileage cars.

It smokes badly on startup after sitting and burns a good bit of oil — about one quart every 250 miles. I’ve driven it as-is for a while, but the day is coming when I’ll need to do something about it.

I was told that the heads would need to be replaced to the tune of about $800. I am thinking for that kind of money I can go ahead and swap out the 305 for an LS. I was quoted about $2,750 for a 5.3-liter junkyard LS swap and $3,750 for a 6.0-liter junkyard LS swap, start to finish.

Read More >

By on August 24, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Spark LS locks overlay, Image: © 2016 Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

General Motors’ 2016 Chevrolet Spark LS does not have power locks.

Correction: as shown in the high-production-quality video embedded below, the 2016 Chevrolet Spark LS has a mysterious power lock, singular.

For an advertised Canadian base price of $9,995, or $11,595 with destination charges, the 2016 Chevrolet Spark is at once both very well equipped and decidedly spartan. This is not the Ford Festiva you inherited from your ex-girlfriend’s uncle. “The bumper and hood are no good,” he told you, having recently run into a deer. “But she runs pretty good.”

No, in the base 2016 Spark, there’s a backup camera, for example, and antilock brakes, a bundle of air bags, decent seats, Bluetooth, and WiFi availability.

There’s also a bit of magic. Read More >

By on August 24, 2016

2017 Honda Fit LX

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that is — all things considered — the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.

The Honda Fit usually ends up on the short list of shoppers who seek shiny new wheels on a Mr. Noodles budget. In fact, one of TTAC’s own had a Fit in his fleet until June of this year. Nearly a decade ago, Honda saw fit to bring the diminutive hatchback to North American shores, and journalists and consumers alike have foisted accolades upon it ever since.

Read More >

By on August 23, 2016

New York City (MsSaraKelly/Flickr)

Micah writes:

Hi –

My wife and I live in New York City. For most people, this would mean no car, but our neighborhood isn’t on subway lines, necessitating wheels for errands, and we often leave the city on day trips. Our car – a ’98 Jetta – has needed nearly $2,000 in repairs over the past 18 months (and repairs are necessary, at an increasing rate), so it might be time to move on. We both agree that the best car for us is a Mercedes-Benz GLK Bluetec (yes, we test drove the previous generation), but that’s more for when we plan on moving out of the city next summer. We sorta need something until then. What are our options?

Read More >

By on August 23, 2016

MegaSquirt EFI

We were standing trackside and talking about the new Acura NSX. My brother had just driven it to the overall win at the first-ever SCCA Targa event. It would have been nice if the NSX he’d been driving had also been a Targa; I believe they were called the NSX-T back in the day. No such luck. The new NSX does not (yet) come in Targa form. What can you do. We all have to face our own share of disappointment. Each worm to his taste, as the proverb says — some worms prefer to eat nettles.

My brother was off somewhere doing something so I was talking to a couple of occasional TTAC readers. They admitted that they skip my stuff and focus on the good solid tangible sales data from Tim Cain. I did not love them for this. But I discussed the NSX with them nonetheless, and at one point somebody said something along the lines of, “It’s a great car, but how are you going to fix something that complicated 20 years from now, without factory or dealer support?” And that was the sentence that triggered my Matrix moment, a mind spinning down a rabbit hole into a deja-vu past.

Read More >

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