Category: Piston Slap

By on January 16, 2017

1983 Lincoln Continental Valentino Header Panel, Image: © 2017 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

My supply of reader-submitted Piston Slap queries is running low! So in the coming weeks, please help re-fill the coffers. Just about anything goes! (Purchase queries go to Ask Bark.)

Email [email protected]com lest I spend the rest of my days updating everyone on my passion project, a Fox-body 1983 Continental Valentino restomod.

While you brainstorm your questions, let’s discuss headlight upgrades — because there’s a right and wrong way!  Read More >

By on January 10, 2017

2016 Lincoln MKT painted wheel, Image: Lincolnsouthcoast.com

Austin writes:

Sajeev,

So, a while ago I asked Bark and community what to replace my broken Audi‎ wagon with. I ended up purchasing a 2010 Lincoln MKT Ecoboost. So far, it has meet all my needs and — more importantly — my expectations, with one minor but irritating issue. At speeds around 70 mph and up, I notice a constant “twitch” in the steering on some highway surfaces — a sensation of vibrating left and right just enough to be noticeable, but not enough to change the actual t‎rajectory of the car.

Read More >

By on January 5, 2017

candytangerineptcruiser

Longtime TTAC Commentator Nate writes:

Hello Sajeev,

An acquaintance bought a PT Cruiser new in 2002 and did some minor customizing, drove the crap out of it for a few years, then the transmission failed. Apparently, they “all do that.” So here’s the deal: I was out scavenging vintage (’77~’85) Mercedes parts and ran across a rolled and totaled 2008 PT Cruiser: can its transmission be used in his 2002 model ?

He seems to think that 2002 is a one-year-only deal. He’s disabled and on a tight budget, says the car is worthless even though it’s pristine, but he’d like to fix it if possible. Unfortunately. rebuilding the current transmission is not in his budget.

Any thoughts or comments would be helpful, but no, I won’t be doing a tranny swap on this cute little car. Read More >

By on December 27, 2016

focus_occs1_01

Mark writes:

Sajeev,

I’ve had my 2015 Focus ST for 15 months and 14,000 trouble-free miles so far, and I’m really enjoying the car. The car is still 100 percent stock, but I’ll likely contact Torrie for a tune before long.

As much as I like the car, I’m really alarmed to read about the intake valve “gunk” issues with Ecoboost and other direct-injection engines. It seems as if DI engines have a real problem that the manufacturers really aren’t willing to acknowledge or address (if it even can be addressed).

What’s your opinion on oil separators and/or catch cans? Are they a good preventive measure, or should I just resign myself to funding a cleaning via walnut shells or other similar clean-up tactics when gas mileage starts to dip, power drops, or misfires develop?

Read More >

By on December 20, 2016

TTAC regular David Holzman writes:

My brother and several of my friends are wondering what to do about their TDIs. There are probably hundreds of thousands more like them! Some issues with keeping them:

  1. Will they actually be forced to clean up the emissions? (I think this may depend on which state they’re in, but I’m not sure.)
  2. How much will the fix affect gas mileage and performance?
  3. Will the fix be a PITA after it’s installed? If so, how so?
  4. After all the above is considered, what’s the cost/benefit of keeping the TDI vs taking the money and getting a new car?
  5. Is there any reason not to simply wait and see how the fix works out and not rushing to take the buy out?

For my brother, sportiness is not a priority, but having a wagon is. As is reliability and having a very similar car so that his wife, who does not adapt easily to different cars and drives the TDI exclusively, will be happy. But I think VW has discontinued Jetta wagons, and the latest generation of Golf (which has a wagon) gets lousy marks for reliability from CR. In particular, they consider some fuel system problems to be “fairly serious.”

All the best,
David

Read More >

By on December 13, 2016

1995 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC HID headlights, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars]

George writes:

What can I do about the low-beam headlights on my 1996 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC? Does anybody make replacement parts for this car?

Please help!

Read More >

By on December 6, 2016

New York City's Department of Transportation fleet of Toyota Prius, Manhattan, NYC., Image: By Mariordo Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Peter writes:

I drive a 2010 Toyota Prius. From top to bottom, I’m thoroughly impressed by the technology in this car. And yet this engineering marvel is so easily disabled by its inferior owner leaving a dome light on overnight and draining the 12V battery.

Is there any technical reason cars allow the 12V battery to be drained down beyond the point where the car will start? Who needs that extra 6 hours of dome lighting?

Read More >

By on November 29, 2016

1998 Toyota Sienna XLE Front 3/4, Image: Toyota

TTAC commenter MatadorX writes:

Sajeev, I wonder if you wouldn’t be able to offer some of your wisdom on the continuing saga of the van.

The new automatic went in and worked perfectly. The engine got fully rebuilt. New crate short block direct from Toyota, heads rebuilt-surfaced/valve job/adjusted/stem seals. Entire engine re-gasketed with Toyota FIPG/OEM gaskets. New pretty much everything else on the front of the car. Wires, plugs, all three O2 sensors (Denso), IAC, Coolant Temp sensor, MAF, resealed injectors, OEM fuel filter. Brand new main TWC catalytic converter. Converted both the exhaust manifolds to 1998 Sienna California emissions spec (integrated warm-up cats), so now the car has a total of THREE catalytic converters.

Broke in the entire setup for 1,000 miles the proper way with varying RPMs, letting off gas to allow rings to seat, and occasional three-quarter throttle bursts, special break in oil for the first 500, then over to Mobil1. Tons of power, smooth, quiet. At idle she is so smooth you can’t even tell the van is on. Checked the entirety of the engine for vacuum leaks — nothing. Compression is strong across the board. Zero blow by.

However, I live in California, and — you guessed it — the van still failed the smog check. Read More >

By on November 25, 2016

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI white

Scott writes:

Sajeev,

I’ve got a two-year-old 2015 Golf with a scarred rear bumper after an encounter with a stone wall (lesson learned — use the mirrors to complement the fuzzy nighttime camera image). Two repair estimates for refinishing the bumper cover average $525.00. The damage is down low behind the rear wheel and I can live with the gouge, for now.

However, I’m wondering about being gouged later when I inevitably decide to trade the car in (probably a few years). My question is: Fix it now, fix it before I sell the car, or don’t worry about it and roll the dice on what a dealer will ding me at trade-in time? Read More >

By on November 15, 2016

2017 Fiat 124 Spider

Kirk writes:

Sajeev,

I asked Bark for advice a few months ago and this question is somewhat related: I’m now planning to get a Miata or maybe the Fiat 124. I live at 5,000 feet above sea level and from what I’ve read, it sounds like the average naturally aspirated engine loses 3 percent of its power for every 1,000 ft increase in elevation, which translates to a 15 percent power loss at 5,000 ft. However, it appears that turbo engines do not suffer as much, as they lose about 1.5 percent power per 1,000 ft on average due to the less dense air. (i.e. more dense with forced induction – SM)

If that is the case, than I expect it would be better for me to get a turbo engine — provided I’m okay with the Fiat. Read More >

By on November 8, 2016

2003 Mercedes C class manual transmission, courtesy http://www.autohausfm.com/

Jack writes:

I have a W203 Mercedes-Benz C 230K/1.8L. Would a rear-drive GM DOHC 3.4-liter V6 with a turbo make the 300-plus horsepower I think this car needs? Would an LS V8 fit? Would a 392 Dodge Hemi fit? Unless AMG, even the Mercedes-Benz V12 is only 5.0-liters. My car has the six-speed found in manual transmission Camaros.

Thanks!

JKD Read More >

By on November 1, 2016

Torque Pro Fault Codes

TTAC commentator Igozoom writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I’ve been reading your postings for years and decided to actually share my (maddening) issues with you.

I have a 2006 Mazda3 S five-door (five-speed manual, 2.3-liter) that I purchased new in December 2005. It only has 101,000 miles on the clock but has had a few significant problems along the way despite regular maintenance. However, the most recent issue has me stumped.

Read More >

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