Category: Piston Slap

By on August 11, 2017

06-08_acura_tsx

William writes:

Sajeev,

It is good to have another reason to contact the great and gracious Sajeev with a question that is more vexing than choosing the wrong flavor of Crest toothpaste at Walmart. (Not. Worthy. – SM) 

I recently had my 2008 Acura TSX in for a filter and oil change at my local Oregon Honda dealer. 

I requested that the oil being put into the car not exceed the maximum mark on the dipstick after the car had sat long enough to get an accurate reading. This occurred during the previous oil and filter change, leading to a most amazing conversation with the Honda Service Deptartment supervisor types. 

Read More >

By on August 4, 2017

E10 + 100 Percent Gasoline at the Pump

Duncan writes:

My daily driver is a 2013 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec (with about 22,000 miles), making a claimed 429 hp on premium gas (91 octane, I assume). The power dips to 421 hp (claimed) when running on regular. Here in Iowa, we have the luxury of purchasing fuel with no ethanol.

The 87 octane gas w/o corn costs almost as much as 91 with. If it was your money, what would you put in the tank? 87 with no ethanol ($2.40ish a gallon), 87 with ethanol ($2.20ish) or 91 with ethanol ($2.50ish)? Running 87 or 91 without ethanol does improve mileage, whereas I do not notice an increase in performance running 91 or 93 — though it is recommended (but not required) by the good folks at Hyundai.

Read More >

By on July 28, 2017

civicsi

Josh writes:

About three months ago, we went out to buy a BMW 3 Series with a six-speed manual. The end result? A gray 2009 Honda Civic Si sedan followed us home instead.

Now, admittedly I did NOT do my homework. I did not run a Carfax. I did not drive it. I did not even pop the hood. (I can hear you laughing, you know.) I came across the ad on Craigslist and went to the Buy Here, Pay Here that had it for sale. (It was the only place I could find a Civic Si — in the extended area Craigslist, mind you — with low enough miles yet within our budget.)

The love of my life took a drive in it as I waited nervously in my prehistoric Suburban. I had told her about the six-speed manual gearbox. How it would give her a spirited drive after a hard day at the office, yet should be ridiculously reliable in a typical Honda fashion, sans the typical timing belt and water pump replacement at 100k mile or so intervals. I sang praises of the K20 mill which, although a torque monster it is not (not in the slightest)… that it does love to rev. And good grief, with a 9,000 rpm or so red line… yes it certainly does.

She came back after a test drive with a smile on her face. She was sold. Immediately. She said she wanted it, and I didn’t need to check it out first. And the boss gets what the boss wants. We paid the princely sum of $7,400 cash money and the Honda Civic Si with 120k miles became part of our family.

Where is my concern, you ask?

How do I say this? This car has… history.

It’s been wrecked. Twice.

It’s been repossessed. Read More >

By on July 21, 2017

2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Engine, 2.5L 250HP I5, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Ed Writes:

Sajeev,

I bought a 2012 Volvo S60 originally, but there was an ongoing issue the dealer could not fix. Amazingly, it offered to replace the car with a 2013 model after about 10 months of trying to fix the issue (at no cost to me). So, kudos to the dealership — I obviously feel like they did me a solid.

Fast forward to today and my 2013 S60 now has 60,000 on the odometer. During the last oil change cycle, I got a “low oil” warning pop up for the first time around 55,000 miles. I pulled over and the car was almost bone dry. I put in a couple of quarts and called the dealership. Since it was close to the oil change time, they asked that I just bring it in for a quick look and oil change. I did so, and now, just 3,500 miles after that dealership visit, I noticed my oil level has gone from the top of the “normal” range on the dipstick to the bottom. At this rate, my oil level will return to bone dry again in the next 1,000-2,000 miles.

On the Volvo forums there are a number 2012 models with oil burning issues and it looks like the dealers are all over the place when dealing with this issue, especially with cars that are out of warranty (in terms of goodwill assistance). So, do I press my luck and see what the dealership will do to help here or just trade it in for another car and keep quiet about the issue, considering their past goodwill towards me?

From what I read, it seems like the first step is a ring replacement ($3k) and if that doesn’t work, an engine replacement ($$$). Any thoughts?

Read More >

By on July 14, 2017

Dodge Durango Projector Headlights Aftermarket, Image: OP
TTAC Commenter flipper35 writes:

I thought I would give everyone an update on the lighting situation on the Durango. After considering the advice from both you and Mr. Stern, I decided that after all the expense of the new OEM lights, the better bulbs and the relay harness, I would just go with the more labor-intensive lights and less labor-intensive wiring from The Retrofit Source. I ended up spending a little over my budget but the lights are worlds better. They’re also an engineered solution that doesn’t blind other drivers.

I made an album with several pictures, before and after, with different settings. As you can see, on the new set there is a distinct cutoff on the “dims.” The low beams are currently adjusted a bit low and I haven’t taken the time to fix that yet, but on the road it is a major improvement. Other than a confused look from my wife when I had to bake the headlight buckets to remove the lenses and finding a place for the computer, ballast, and relay, it wasn’t too bad.

It was a little more work than I had planned, but the all-in price wasn’t much more than going the OEM route. It is a very significant improvement. I did get to adjust them a bit, and then followed my brother-in-law to see if they were blinding everyone. He said it was no different than other traffic, so I think I will leave the alignment right there. The beans line up on the door with the dims slightly higher than the other lights, but the old lights were sort of a blob on the top and I used a guess as to where the “cut” line was.

Thanks for all the help. I wanted to do it right and have them be able to align correctly. Even though I didn’t follow your exact advice, you gave me the push in the right direction. It still isn’t a bad looking truck for 190k miles!

Read More >

By on July 7, 2017

1999 Mercury Grand Marquis, Image: Autoblog

TTAC commentator lilpoindexter writes:

Sanjeev (ha-ha),

I am in quite a pickle. I just got my fat tax return and I want to get SOMETHING. I suggested an OG Toyota Sienna to the wife so we could take our bikes out and go bike riding. However, like most women, she wasn’t too excited about a 14-year-old minivan sharing the driveway. So, I was thinking to hell with it — let me get something I want!

One of the cars on my radar is the Mercury Grand Marquis. I understand the (circa) 2004 and newer models are the ones to get because of the upgraded front suspension. The thing is, I think their flat positive offset wheel are ugly AF. I am most interested in the 1998-2003 Marquis with the deep mesh wheels that look like 80’s BBS wheels. It seems like the BBS wheel Marquis almost always came with dual exhaust, digital dash, and automatic HVAC controls.

Is the newer panther really THAT much better than the older one with the beautiful mesh wheels? I can’t get too excited about the little 4.6-liter engine but, with some flowmasters on it, I think it would at least provide a nice soundtrack.

Talk me off the ledge, or kick me harder off it…

Read More >

By on June 30, 2017

2003 Jaguar S Type R, Image: www.dailyturismo.com

Keith writes:

Hi, I’ve recently acquired a 2003 Jaguar S-Type R. Sort of rare. It’s the supercharged V8 model. The car is in good condition, but has 140,000 miles and needs some TLC, to say the least. I’m having trouble finding parts. Salvage yards tell me they have parts, only the donor cars are standard S-Types. I’ve been on Jag forums and found help with engine, supercharger, and mechanical parts.

I need the lower (under engine, trans) body panels from the front valance back through the trans including inner fender wells and spoiler. The correct parts have cooling channels for brakes and trans. Jag dealers want small fortune. I’m trying to get salvaged parts. I even bought all new aftermarket pieces from eBay UK. Struggled installing them, five hours on my lift, altering parts to fit. So, obviously not correct, as a “Jag expert” assured me. During my first test trip I saw my new panels in my rear-view, bouncing off the highway into a million pieces.

So, I’m looking for some direction in finding R Model parts. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Read More >

By on June 22, 2017

2015 Honda Fit Overlap Crash Test IIHS. Image: IIHS

Chris writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I’m in the market for a new(er) car to replace my 2005 Nissan Quest. Safety is a very important precondition for my purchase since it will be used to transport my kids around our very congested city. I was thinking about leasing a 2017 model and narrowed my search down to a Chevy Equinox, Nissan Rogue, or Mitsubishi Outlander (all about $200/month for 36 months with $3K down). In crunching the numbers, I quickly realized that with the $10,200 or so that I’d spend on leasing a car that I’d eventually have to part ways with, I could easily buy a low mileage example that was between 3-6 years old. Read More >

By on June 16, 2017

Nissan Leaf Brown, Image: www.autocar.co.uk

Dan writes:

Lately I’ve been obsessed with buying a Nissan Leaf as a commuter car. That might seem like a sensible stop-and-go commuter choice for most people, but there’s a wrinkle: I already have four other cars and I don’t want to get rid of any of them — 2014 BMW X1, STR class 2012 Miata, 2011 Boxster Spyder, and a 2014 Audi TT.

I autocross the ‘verts, the X1 is my long distance and winter ride, and for reasons I can’t go into I can’t get rid of the TT.

I’ve wanted an electric car for a long time (I looked into conversions 10 years ago or so, but never did one) and the prices on used Leafs are very attractive. It might not be the most exciting car, but sometimes a person just wants to drive in meditative silence with smooth and instant throttle response without actually going very far or very fast.

So, tell me there are other people out there with five cars and I’m not being crazy for wanting to be one of them.

Read More >

By on June 9, 2017

Ford, GM and Dodge E85 Flex Fuel Emblems. Image: Wikipedia

Longtime TTAC commentor rrhyne56 writes:

Flex Fuel. I see it more and more. From what I’ve heard, this mainly means the vehicle has a fuel system that alcohol wouldn’t eat up. (Mainly, yes. — SM)

So here’s my question: do the more recent models of these vehicles have the ability to sense what level of alcohol is in the fuel lines and adjust the engine accordingly, to make best advantage of whatever current gasoline/alcohol or alcohol/gasoline mixture is entering the engine? I watched a build on Mighty Car Mods where the Haltech engineer was tweaking just such a system.

I know, I know, I ought to just Google it. But I thought it might make for some lively discussion. Read More >

By on June 2, 2017

Focus RS differential, Image: blogs.youwheel.com

This week, let’s answer two short questions with equally short answers! – SM

William writes:

I have a Ranger-based question for you: my 2010 XLT four-cylinder regular cab’s passenger side seatbelt will not “pull out” at random times when the wife is getting in the car. Is there a relay or something that controls that? Read More >

By on May 19, 2017

BMW E60 Angel Eyes, Image: Wikimedia Commons

TTAC commentator idesigner writes:

Sajeev,

Last night during my drive home I saw something I see all too often: In the year is 2017, there are still cars and trucks that don’t have all their driving light on! Instead, they’ll only illuminate their front lights (and I can imagine dash light as well) but not tail or side lights.

What’s up with this? Aren’t auto manufacturers smart enough to fix this phenomenon? Why isn’t there a sound like the seat belt chime that tells you your lights are not on?
Read More >

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?

Read More >

By on May 3, 2017

Fleet of Ford Crown Victorias, Image: www.government-fleet.com

Anonymous writes:

I have a question about fleet replacements. Currently, we have a vehicle fleet that includes:

  • 2010 Ford Explorer, 103k miles
  • 2006 Ford Crown Vic, 78k miles
  • 2006 Buick Lucerne, 82k miles
  • 2005 Chevy Impala, 76k miles
  • 2014 Ford Explorer, 40k miles
  • 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan, 65k miles
  • 2008 – Ford Crown Vic, 70k miles
  • 2011 Chevy Impala, 18k miles
  • 2014 Jeep Patriot, 28k miles
  • 2014 Jeep Patriot, 18k miles
  • 2014 Jeep Patriot, 23k miles
  • 2011 Chevy Impala, 46k miles
  • 2007 Dodge Caravan, 123k miles
  • 2012 Chevy Impala, 24k miles
  • 2012 Chevy Impala, 22k miles

Our budget only allows to replace nine vehicles with a 2014 equivalent version of each.

What would you decide to keep and replace? What guidelines would you consider?

Read More >

By on April 28, 2017

Mercedes-Benz 450SL; Image: benzinsider.com

TTAC commenter Felix Hoenikker writes:

Sajeev,

I am in the process of replacing at least two tires on my ’74 Mercedes 450SL. The current tires are P205/70R14 Bridgestone RE 900 performance tires. They came with the car when I bought it privately in the summer of 2001.

I’ve been slowly — and I mean slowly — restoring the SL, and have only driven it about 10,000 miles since taking ownership.

Recently, I discovered the front left tire is wearing down much faster than the other three.

Read More >

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