Category: Piston Slap

By on May 26, 2016

65aa04726cce3fd097bfe1b9cd27fd18d148fc4d

Dan writes:

I was hoping you might do an article on the lost art of exhaust tuning.

I feel like the norm these days in anything sporty is to just make it as loud as possible with an obnoxious rumble and perpetual popping/crackling. I really miss the exhaust sounds of 10-15 years ago that were quite distinct and matched the car; the one that comes to mind (and still sounds great) is that of the original Infiniti G35 coupe/Nissan 350Z. It was refined yet had a nice wail to it when you added enough throttle. Nowadays, I hear a Jaguar F-Type driving past and it sounds like an old beater Mustang with a straight-pipe exhaust, not a $100,000 car.

Have manufacturers gotten lazy, or has this notion of obnoxious exhausts just become the new norm?

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By on May 24, 2016

Brighton, MI Sunoco Ethanol-Free Pump Options, REC 90, Image: 127driver/Wikimedia Commons

David writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Is it worth the extra 40¢/gallon to go for 91 octane ethanol-free gasoline based on its durability merits?

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By on May 19, 2016

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

TTAC commentator claytori writes:

Hello Sajeev,

This email is about my 80-year-old mother-in-law Shirley, who is a sweetie and thinks I can fix anything. I hit the MIL jackpot.

Shirley owns a 2010 Lincoln MKZ 3.5 V6 with about 35,000 miles on it. About a year ago, the battery died on the Lincoln. CAA replaced it with another battery with a 13-month replacement warranty, on which less than 1 week remains.

Two weeks ago, the car wouldn’t start again, so I boosted it from my Saab 9-3, which sits beside the Lincoln in a heated garage. It started right away. As she doesn’t drive it more than about 3 miles at a time, I drove the car for a day to charge up the battery.

The battery was great for two days — then dead again.

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By on May 17, 2016

Honda Stream

TTAC commenter Sjalabais writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I wrote to you once before about choosing a sensible family beater. In the end, I bought a 2002 Honda Stream, which I have since driven 30,000+ km. It’s a very rare car in Norway; only 147 on the road as of this year.

The Honda has been fairly reliable (lots of brake issues), practical enough (try to beat a ’70s Volvo!) and fairly robust. What I like is that it can take a beating when we go to the mountains.

Over the course of the last year, an odd issue has become an annoyance: Sometimes, the car will start, but not hold revs.

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By on May 12, 2016

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Will writes:

Hey Sajeev,

My 2010 Ford Ranger XLT 2.3-liter automatic has been an amazing truck since I bought it new in 2010. Lately, I’ve got a vibration and weird sound coming from the driver’s side when stopped at a red light. It only occurs (or is noticeable) when it’s cold outside.

This sound occurred before and after I replaced the ball joint (driver’s bottom) as I was told by a mechanic at Ford it needed to be replaced.

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By on May 10, 2016

Capture

TTAC commentator Macca writes:

Sajeev,

This is random, but I was wondering if you could look into an automotive curiosity that has bugged me for some time. Internet searches on the subject have not produced any answers so far, unfortunately.

I do not own a Ram truck, nor do I envision ever purchasing one, but I do often find myself sitting in traffic behind one. I’ve noticed that on recent models, the rear bumper has a slight indentation above and to the right of the license plate area. This indentation appears to coincide with what appears to be a drain hole of some sort for the bed, but the two aren’t ever fully aligned.

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By on May 5, 2016

2005 Ford Focus SE ZX4

Darrick writes:

Hey Sajeev,

First of all, I want to say that I enjoy your articles and your love of Panther and Fox body Fords. (Woot! —SM)

I’m writing to you about my 2005 Ford Focus SE ZX4 in the hope that you may give me some guidance.

I moved to the east coast (southeastern Virginia) from the Midwest in 2008. A year later, I received a brutal lesson in what coastal flooding can do to a neighborhood and when said flooding finds its way into a vehicle. My Focus sustained $3,500 in damages, and nearly all that amount was due to airbag and seatbelt system damage. I had insurance, so I was only out of my $100 deductible, but the damage cost was such that I now have a branded title due to flood damage.

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By on May 3, 2016

2011_ford_mustang_eng_10-de-as_4_717

Walt writes:

Sajeev,

I wrote to you five years ago about a frozen Ranger parking brake, and later on about the incredibly dumb idea of purchasing a vintage Mustang with a loan. Thankfully, the former resolved itself, and the latter remained a pipe dream. What I did do, however, was buy a ’14 Mustang GT with a 5.0-liter Coyote V8 and six-speed manual. It now has around 9,800 miles.

At around 3,000 miles it developed a clicking noise at idle, audible with the driver side window rolled down and a curb or jersey barrier to bounce the sound back at me. The frequency of this click increases with engine revs. Existence of this issue with the 5.0-liter Coyote is well documented on F-150 and Mustang forums alike.

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By on April 28, 2016

Mini Cooper in the snow, Image: MiniMania

Jeremy writes:

Hi Sajeev,

My mother-in-law just moved from Ft. Meyers, FL to Akron, OH with her Mini Clubman S to be closer to her granddaughter. As a proud British person, she loves the car but is concerned about Midwest/lake effect winters and was thinking of getting a CUV/SUV. Having been a loyal reader of this column and the rest of TTAC, I made the foolish suggestion of just getting a second set of wheels with snow tires on them instead.

I say foolish not because it’s necessarily the wrong advice (though I want your input on that), but because now it’s my job to armchair it from 300 miles away with someone who’s not exactly a car person.

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By on April 26, 2016

James "Ski" Smith drives on two wheels around Laguna Seca, Image Source: Autoedit/YouTube

David writes:

Over the last few years, I’ve had work done on my ’99 Ford F-150 at various places near my work. It seems that when a wear item goes (like ball joints), the mechanic wants to replace absolutely everything in the system — tie rods, pitman arm, trailing arm, etc. Or when the left side brake caliper goes bad, they want to replace the right one, too. Or give me all new hoses when I replace my radiator.

The reason the mechanic gives is always, “Well they are the same age, and if the left one is bad, the right one is not far behind.”

This gets really expensive really quick. Is this worth it? Why do mechanics always want to replace everything in the system, if only one part is bad? Is this strategy only to boost profit? Or is there some truth in their reasoning? Read More >

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