Category: Ask Jack

By on April 20, 2017

By Siyuwj Geely_assembly_line

Long-time TTAC readers may recall that your humble author has worked a variety of unglamorous jobs in the retail end of the auto business — salesman, title department for one major finance company, skip tracer and junior approval officer for another — but I’ve also worked two stints in vehicle production itself. I never worked on the line directly, but I worked with various plants and production facilities on a fairly regular basis. Once I managed to figure out a pretty major problem and save the automaker in question about 45 minutes’ worth of downtime for their whole North American operation. That’s a savings measured in millions of dollars. I was so pleased with myself, I ran out, hopped in my old Porsche 911, and went to Donatos for a celebratory pizza with double cheese.

They wrote me up for taking a long lunch.

I bet that never happened to Bob Lutz.

Anyway, I’m a big fan of building cars — and everything else — in the United States. (You can find out more about American-made products and services at my hobby blog.) When we build real, tangible products here in the USA, we change hundreds of thousands of lives for the better. We preserve families and give young people a chance at a life beyond the social-welfare system. We also make it possible for minorities and disadvantaged people to enter the middle class and live the American dream.

Unfortunately, as a reader recently reminded me, these benefits don’t come without an associated cost, and that cost can be measured in blood.

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By on April 11, 2017

Audi 5000 towing

There are quite a few differences between Europe and the United States. Which, if you think about it, was kind of the point of having a United States in the first place. A hundred years from now, when Europe and America are both part of the Caliphate, these differences might not be as pronounced as they are today. In the meantime, however, we are still two continents separated by a common, fast-vanishing heritage. Which leads us, quite naturally, to the subject of towing.

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By on April 6, 2017

2016 Subaru WRX at an autocross event, Image: © 2016 Bozi Tatarevic/The Truth About Cars

Talk about being careful what you wish for. I now have about 40 questions in my inbox for “Ask Jack,” with more steadily trickling in. I’m going to answer all of them, either here or via e-mail, and in a semi-timely manner to boot. So don’t be afraid to send your questions to [email protected]. I’m ready, and waiting, to give you the kind of bad advice you can only get from somebody who’s crashed more marriages than he has crashed race cars!

Robert writes:

Hi Jack. In keeping with the mantra, “Want to be a better driver? Get a worse tire,” I do indeed want to be a better driver. Specifically, a better autocross driver. I’ve run the original equipment, 600-treadwear tires on my ’14 Honda Civic Si for my first four events. I suck, but I’m steadily improving with every event. I can get one, maybe two more events out of these tires before they’re down past the tread-wear markers. All the instructors I’ve driven with say the same thing: get Potenza RE71s because the tires I have are costing me 2 to 5 seconds. That gap would have gotten me on the podium at the last two events. But I know I’m still leaving seconds out there due to my inexperience. Should I go Potenza when I replace the tires?

This is the sort of question I love to get — thoughtful, easy to understand, and right in the proverbial wheel house. Even better, the answer to the question will be useful to many of you, even if you have no idea what an “autocross” might be.

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By on March 28, 2017

2008 Maxima, Image: Nissan

This week’s episode of Ask Jack is all about the magic boxes that separate today’s cars from their predecessors — and the unintended consequences of when it all goes wrong.

Reader Eiriksmal writes:

I hope I’ve startled you with this bold introduction. There’s a question I have that only you can answer … probably. It takes a sophisticated man with all sorts of worldly experience that I lack.

You see, I drive a car without antilock brakes, traction control, or stability control. I’m a whipper snapper who’s only been driving 14 years, so I never knew an era without ABS, at the very least. My beloved sixth-generation Maxima, what with the six-speed manual, has a malfunctioning ABS module, so the ABS and TC (no yaw sensor was installed on the 6MT cars — ESC was autotragic only) are kaput. I’ve driven it sans braking assistance for 2.5 years, but today was my first heart-clenching episode caused by a lack of experience with driving an ABS-less car.

I noticed when bedding in some new brakes recently that the back end tries to come around the front in a panic stop after the wheels lock. Sometimes it just squirms a little, other times it would step the back end out a solid 6-8 inches. This confuses me. When I’m pointing in a straight line, holding the steering wheel tight, and jamming the pedal to the floor, why does the lighter back end try to rotate around the heavy nose?

Today, a jerk in an Escape lumbered out in front of me …

This sounds like trouble.

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By on March 21, 2017

2014 Lincoln MKT, Image: Ford Motor Company

Before we get down to the meat of this week’s question, a brief bit of housekeeping. If you have a question for “Ask Jack”, send it to askjack@jackbaruth.com. I will accept and privately answer questions on any topic, regardless of my qualifications to do so. Perhaps you would like to know how to catch the eye of that bored, fidgety, but remarkably attractive housewife down the street. Maybe you need to reshuffle Excel spreadsheets using Perl from a command line, or make a tattoo gun using only the items available in a Midwestern prison. I can help you with any of these queries and a million more. However, in keeping with the fundamental dignity of this website, only questions of an automotive nature will be answered here. No matter what the precise nature of your business might be, please title the email “Ask Jack”.

Now where we were? Oh yes: a fellow with the world’s best car is interested in trading it for the world’s ugliest crossover.

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By on March 16, 2017

Peril Chica checks out a Chevrolet SS, Image: © 2017 Jack Baruth

Today’s Ask Jack, just like the calls in those old teen horror movies, is coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE.

Hey Jack,

I’m a woman in her 30s with four cars — Chevrolet Tahoe Z71, Ford Fiesta ST, Chevrolet C5 Corvette with 421 rwhp and coilovers, as well as an MX-5 Cup race car. The Fiesta was a great car to get started in this automotive hobby but I’m no longer very excited by its performance on or off the racetrack. So I’m looking for a faster, more interesting, more capable car for those off-the-cuff track days where it’s too much hassle to trailer the Cup car or deal with the Corvette’s voracious appetite for tires and brakes.

I’ve been thinking about one of the last six-speed Chevrolet SS sedans. I can get one pretty easily for $38,000 against a sticker of $48,900. But I’ve also been thinking about a Civic Type R. It looks like they will be priced around $35k. I’d get similar performance, although delivered in a very different fashion. But which one is really faster around a track? Which one is more fun to drive? Less hassle to own? A smarter financial proposition? Also, would you mind getting all your BMX bike stuff off the dining room table? Three weeks ago you said you’d have that done by Sunday. Sincerely … the anonymous reader who wishes to be known as, um, “Peril Chica”.

Well, Peril Chica, I’m glad you asked this question! The answer is … Buy a lightly-used Snakeskin Viper ACR. What? You’re not happy with that answer? Alright. Let’s take a serious look at this, and then let’s get the readers involved.

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By on March 7, 2017

Dodge Charger Seward Highway

“It should not be denied… that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations, with absolute freedom, and the road has always led West.” —Wallace Stegner

Got an unusual question via email the other day. It comes from a young man who will be familiar to you but whom we will not explicitly identify. He was once a writer, once an editor, and now a financier, having achieved escape velocity from this ragged, scuttling business into the security and prestige of grown men’s endeavors. There was a time that he worked for me, and a time that I worked for him. It seems difficult to believe that we met eight full years ago.

Anyway, in the course of our various conversations, this Canadian fellow (we’ll call him “Bo”) happened to mention his upcoming travel plans and his need for some companionship along the way, preferably of the short-term, transaction-oriented variety.

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By on March 1, 2017

s62

Three months ago, I introduced you to my friend Edward, who was agonizing over the potential lease of a new BMW M3. Or a 440i. Or a 430i. It was all up for grabs. I suggested an alternative: the iconic pairing of Accord and Corvette, familiar to TTAC readers from my own garage. Horses for courses, I always say. But Edward was of a different mind. He didn’t want to wait until the weekends or the sunset evenings after work to enjoy himself. A few days ago, he brought his new car by to show off — and what a car it is.

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By on November 15, 2016

2016 BMW M3

My friend “Edward” is a conservative fellow. He’s smart, and he’s successful, but he’s also not going to be the first person in a group to, say, jump into a lake of unknown temperature. He’d rather let some other idiot take the risk.

In at least two cases, I’ve been that idiot.

When he met my voluptuous Italian housekeeper at my 40th birthday party, he thought she was pretty neat — but he waited to ask her out until I’d confirmed that said housekeeper was both fantastic in bed and unlikely to send him a boiled rabbit in the mail. And once he saw that owning an Audi S5 didn’t mean that I’d be spending every weekend drinking coffee at the service department, he picked up an Audi S4 for a daily driver. In contrast to my lime green six-speed V8 coupe, however, his Audi was a dual-clutch, supercharged-V6, metallic black four-door. Conservative. Just like him.

Edward would like to replace his S4 before winter comes. My advice to him was to take a safer version of my current path: get himself an Accord V6 sedan for the commuting grind and a brand-new Z51 Corvette for the weekends. He can certainly afford to do it, but instead, he’s thinking about upping the ante to a loaded-up M3 with a dual-clutch transmission. However, I had a slightly different idea, as you will see.

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By on March 21, 2016

Lotus Elise At Hertz

It’s the triumphant return of Ask Jack, the question-and-answer series that has proven to be significantly less popular than Ask Bark. Today’s question comes from several commenters on the Malibu LTZ Review, and it can be summed up like this:

If you’re only driving 500 miles or so during the weekend, why would you rent a car instead of taking your Accord/911/Boxster/Neon/Tahoe/Fiesta/motorcycles/bicycles/Uber/Southwest/Car2G?

I’m glad you asked. Really, I am. ‘Cause otherwise, today’s column would have been a long snd slightly sorrowful re-telling of a time I accidentally let my S5 roll downhill into a concrete parking block because I had both of my hands between some young mother’s legs in the passenger seat and my foot slipped off the brake when I leaned all the way over towards her.

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By on November 5, 2015

matrixint

Welcome back for another installment of “Ask Jack”, the place for you, the man on the street, to ask me, the man on the Internet, any question you like on any topic that makes its way into your mind.

Today’s question seems like a simple one: do you stay in the Matrix or not? In this case, the Matrix is a Toyota Matrix, with the all-too-common manual-transmission failure. But to properly answer the question, we’ll need to consider everything from solo ocean journeys to bad seeds in a magic bus.

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By on October 14, 2015

final

Judging from the comments on my Beetle review, some of you clearly think I’m using this whole “shattered leg” thing as an excuse to just phone it in until I can obtain a prescription for Dilaudid and start writing the authentic Hunter S. Thompson psychedelia once again. Do not worry, my little kittens. Papa has heard your cries and I will do right by you in every particular. I have plenty of time to do so, since my injuries will keep me from having sex for at least four days, possibly five. Which for me is a long time, because as you know I like to get down whenever I can.

Let us begin thus: Yesterday, I was relaxing in pre-op, waiting for a bunch of screws made from the same material as my IWC Ingenieur Titanium to be placed in my second-favorite tibia, listening to “Last Train Home” from Metheny’s first “Brazilian” record, 1987’s Still Life Talking, when the young lady next to me said “Your phone’s buzzing. Maybe it’s important.” I recognized the number: a dedicated TTAC reader and occasional contributor with a definite fondness for Mitsubishis.

“I’d better take this,” I said, waving off the surgery team.

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By on April 28, 2015

CRX

It’s the return of Ask Jack, one of my your favorite sections! You can now ask me questions about nearly anything, as long as there’s a kinda-sorta automotive aspect to it. Kinda-sorta. In the meantime, check out today’s question:

Hey Jack,

I’m in a bit of a dilemma. I’m a self-employed delivery driver (delivering restaurant meals, not pizza) and until recently I’ve been using a 1989 Honda CRX HF for that duty. I was averaging about 48mpg in 80% city driving and it was good for parking in downtown Portland, OR (as good as it can in a city where cars are practically banned). And the A/C actually worked!
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By on October 25, 2014

2013-Toyota-Prius-Persona-Edition-Wallpaper-2

It’s another underwater lease question! Never learned to swim! But I think this one will be even easier to answer.

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By on October 15, 2014

2014-Camry-SE

Welcome to our new feature, Ask Jack! I’ll be answering your questions on pretty much any topic that has a vague relationship to cars. Send me your questions and make sure you let us know if you want to be identified!

Our very first question comes from a fellow who wants to know what he should do about lease mileage on his Camry. As fate would have it, I was a Red Carpet Leasing Professional(tm) in another life and I am ready to help!

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