Category: Piston Slap

By on October 13, 2017

2004 Chrysler 300m Interior, Image: Chrysler

TTAC Commentator mopar4wd writes:

Sajeev,

So, I’ve noticed over the years that common wisdom for purchasing budget cars is all about condition and less about mileage. But other than my trusty ’88 Ramcharger, ’00 Durango, ’91 Eagle summit (Mitsubishi Mirage) and ’87 Toyota pickup, most of the vehicles I have owned all started becoming awful to own going somewhere between 150-200k miles. The list includes Fords, Subarus, Jeeps, Nissans, Chryslers, Volkswagens, Volvos, etc., since I pretty much only buy sub-$5,000 cars and have to rely on them daily. I have shifted to a little older and lower mileage (and of course well taken care of). Usually between 90-120k miles and 10 to 12 years old.

Which leads me to my question. I’m now the owner of a 2004 Chrysler 300M with 42,000 miles. The owner bought it from a Chrysler dealer locally in 2006. It’s well maintained and clean despite living its life outdoors: new tires, new battery and oil changes every 3k miles. The owner had it up for a reasonable price but everyone was low balling her — I brought a reasonable offer (about 15 percent less than asking) and picked it up.

After driving it a thousand miles a few things have popped up: cam sensor going out (a common issue that I’m DIYing today), I’ve made an appointment to have the timing belt and water pump replaced (there was no record of this work), and based on feel I think the rear struts may need a change.

Given the like-new condition of the car is there anything else I should be looking at doing (fluid changes are on the list) given that it’s closing in on 14 years old? Read More >

By on October 6, 2017

1973 Chevrolet Impala Airbag Brochure, Image: www.klassiker.nu

Mark writes:

Sajeev,

I recently acquired a 1990 Porsche 944 cabriolet. It’s in really good shape and has been well taken care of, but I started thinking about the airbags. The 27-year-old airbags.

How long are they good for? If they fail will they go off unexpectedly or not at all? Should I replace with new airbags, disconnect or remove completely?

Read More >

By on September 29, 2017

2006_ford_explorer_cologne v6 4.0, Image: Ford

Erik writes:

This morning I pulled in to work and a friend stopped me to ask about his 2006 Ford Explorer. A week ago he performed an oil change on his 4.0-liter V6. When he was changing the filter, the old oil filter’s gasket stuck on, but he didn’t see it and double gasketed it. When he fired up the engine oil spewed everywhere. The oil level ran low before he discovered it and shut off the engine. He kitty-littered the driveway, re-installed the filter, and topped the oil back up. He started the engine and his lifters started ticking. As I stood there talking with him, I could hear multiple lifters ticking. Is there a safe and reliable way to get the lifters pumped back up without disassembling the top end?

I googled “Ford 4.0 lifters ticking” and apparently the engine family has issues with lifters ticking when they get old, but I can’t find anything pertaining to lifters ticking after running the oil level low. The recommendations I see are to run thicker oil, Marvel Mystery Oil, STP oil treatment, Lucas oil stabilizer, ATF, etc. Are any of these a reasonable solution for his problem?

I’ve also read to just drive the truck as normal and the ticking will go away. This is what I’m inclined to recommend. Do you have any better info?

Please let me insert a tip I learned as a technician: when you change your oil filter, always wipe off the filter sealing surface and you will never have this problem. Read More >

By on September 22, 2017

2004 GMC Envoy Radiator Cap Leak, Image: OP

Dave writes:

Hello Sajeev,

I have a 2004 GMC Envoy, 4.2-liter six-cylinder, with about 123k miles that seems to be leaking coolant from somewhere around the radiator cap. Every time I come to a stop with the windows down or pull into the garage I can smell antifreeze. The radiator appears full and the reservoir seems to be maintaining a fairly consistent level of the pink stuff. It never leaks enough that I see wet spots except now and then around the cap, and even then it’s only a few drops at most. I’ve taken it to the mechanic; they double checked all the hoses and connections and even replaced the cap, but it didn’t help.

I replaced the cap a second time thinking I got a bad one, but the smell remains. By happenstance the cap I bought happened to be the exact same brand the mechanic used. I’ve attached a picture of the engine bay showing the areas where I can see dried coolant. The perplexing part to me is that, judging by the splatter pattern near the oil fill and the air filter box, some of the coolant seems to be making it to the fan. Still, I never see any wet spots leading in that direction. Do you have any suggestions?

As a side question, I have been getting an intermittent CEL with an associated P0526 code (fan speed sensor). It will come on for a trip or two and then go away on its own. Any chance the supposed coolant hitting the fan could be causing the CEL?

Read More >

By on September 15, 2017

Toyota Check Engine Light Vehicle Stability Control Light

Looongtime TTAC commentator PrincipalDan writes:

I recently had an experience with CEL (check engine light) and VSC light (vehicle skid control) that left me scratching my head: I was on my way into Gallup (30 mile drive) and as I was getting up to speed on the highway the CEL and VSC came on at the same time. I know the CEL can be triggered by a dozen different things but seeing a constantly lit VSC was a new experience.

The vehicle (2010 Toyota Highlander) drove perfectly normally and I went on to my destination. I consulted the forums and they said the CEL would AUTOMATICALLY trigger the VSC light and that the VSC would basically be shut off by the triggering of a CEL. Dafuq!?!?!? Really Toyota?

A CEL (which could be triggered by something like an improperly tightened gas cap) will shut down one of the key components of the safety systems of the car? What’s the logic behind this? More lights means the average American is more likely to go to the dealer and get it checked out? Do all of the manufactures do this now?

BTW, my lights were triggered by a bad gas cap. Couldn’t get it to “click” anymore so I replaced — lights went away and problem solved.

Read More >

By on September 1, 2017

2006_toyota_mark-x. Image: Wikimedia

Tamar writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Hailing from Myanmar, I have a first-gen Toyota Mark X. Forbidden in the U.S., and of interest to many JDM enthusiasts, I happen to think it’s just a stretched Lexus IS 250 (but not quite a GS). It’s got the 2.5-liter 4GR-FSE engine, and I’ve had this cold start rattle for a few seconds every morning, and sometimes during the day as well. The issue’s well known and attributed to the cam gears in the VVTI system. Mine is a 2005 model with more than 100,000 miles on it, so I wouldn’t want to spend a substantial amount of money if it’s not necessary.

So, if there are makeshift fixes that’ll hold it up until I let it go in a year or so, I’d like to know. If it is a real issue that threatens engine failure, I’ll get it fixed. What would you do?

Another problem: I think the Mark X is well made and mostly a nice car, but I have gripes with its (surprise!) steering feel. So I swapped out the steering rack bushes with aluminum ones (pretty hardcore, huh?). The on-center feel improved a whole lot, and I now have this hands-on-asphalt feel in a Toyota midsize sedan. The problem is, once I start to turn the steering wheel (this being electric steering), it’s floaty and I still can’t feel how far I’ve turned the wheels! I never thought a car with so much feedback on center would have problems with feel while off-center. For better steering feedback for the EPS system, I’m thinking of pulling the fuse for the electric steering. I looked for the answer on the interwebs but couldn’t find any — would running the electric power steering system without power assist harm the innards of the system or not? I find a lot of people encouraging it as an enthusiast’s option, but no mention of possible harm to the steering system or not.

What say you?

Read More >

By on August 25, 2017

2007 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Image: Wikimedia Commons

Doug updates us:

Hello, just an update on this problem: an indy shop I had used before on another Mercedes put my 2007 S550 on a lift and diagnosed it with a failed transmission mount. Just a little $60 part at the tail end/output end of the transmission.

Because it had failed, the transmission was essentially resting on the frame crossmember, pretty much directly beneath the center console/armrest where I felt the vibration so acutely. I was skeptical it could be that simple/cheap, but sure enough it eliminated the problem! It’s super smooth and silent now. The other likely culprits, the flex discs at each end of the driveshaft and the center carrier bearing for the two-piece drive shaft, all look new and can’t be original. They must have been replaced by the first owner. Read More >

By on August 18, 2017

Tires

TTAC Reader DeSoto writes:

Greetings, Sajeev — longtime reader, first time writer, and I enjoy the content your column adds to TTAC! (Woot! — SM)

I recently acquired an all-wheel drive 2014 Cadillac CTS with about 15,000 miles on its factory 255/35 R19 Pirelli P7 run-flat tires. Looking ahead to an upcoming 3,500 mile driving trip, I have concern for the durability/drivability of the run-flats. The CTS is not equipped with any wheel-changing tools (jack, wrench, spare tire/wheel). A spare tire assembly (for the CT6) is available online, but I believe the standard compact spare is too small in diameter to be compatible with the 19-inch wheels on the AWD drivetrain.  I prefer the freedom of having the option of changing a tire myself and continuing on my way, rather than waiting hours for assistance. I am thus considering, in order of my current preference: Read More >

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 >

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