Category: Piston Slap

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 >

By on April 18, 2017

Mazda 6 Grand Touring Interior, Image: Mazda/www.allcarz.ru

TTAC Commentator AbqJay writes:

A couple of months ago I bought a slightly used 2016 Mazda 6 Grand Touring with 18,000 miles. The car is my wife’s daily driver; I drive it about once a week, and for longer trips, such as a jaunt I took from our home in Albuquerque to southern California in December. It’s hard to believe, but this is my first wrong-wheel drive car. The Mazda 6 is roomy, has decent power, gets fabulous mileage, and has an interior filled with creamy leatherette seating and trim, and soothing blue LED lighting. Since no one wants to buy this car, we got a great deal on it. So far so good.

Then I drove it to Cali.

On the drive, I noticed the steering is heavy. As in really heavy. As in my wrists hurt after driving it for about 20 minutes on the interstate. It feels like I am wrestling with it, even though the steering appears to be dead center.

Read More >

By on April 11, 2017

2000 Dodge Durango, Image: FCA

Sajeev writes:

I created Piston Slap as a way to bring the diverse knowledge base of your favorite car forum to the autoblogosphere with easy to digest weekly posts. The only problem is when a mistake gets published, the thread never comes back to page one with its correction.

I screwed up, so here I’ll do my best to fix it: I was mistaken about aftermarket DOT/SAE approved lights being just as good or better than original-equipment factory parts. Some of the aftermarket parts are promoted as being “CAPA certified” (Certified Automotive Parts Association), but as we shall see, that doesn’t mean what it sounds like, and it doesn’t help with our reader’s query that started the conversation in the first place. As seen elsewhere, parts not up to spec can have tragic consequences with little recourse for victims.

Read More >

By on April 4, 2017

C1937 Cord 812 (Jane Nealing/Flickr)

DAG writes:

Why don’t automakers design front-wheel-drive cars with the transaxle in front of the engine? This moves the front wheels forward and improves weight distribution; offers better potential for aerodynamics and leaves space under the hood for pedestrian protection. With a turbo four-cylinder, the engine could have clearance from the firewall. Also, the engine and transaxle could be mounted on a pivoting subframe, hinged at the front, to drop down at the back for major maintenance; disconnect steering and exhaust to drop cradle.

The engine would sit in the space where rack and pinion generally resides; steering gear design would be a challenge for direct mechanical actuation. Perhaps traction would be reduced. Would crashworthiness also be affected? Read More >

By on March 28, 2017

2000 Dodge Durango, Image: FCA

TTAC Commentator flipper35 writes:

I have a 2000 Dodge Durango (wrote about the brakes on it before, all is good with them) and the lights are not the greatest. After replacing the passenger side due to a deer ramming its butt into it, its headlights no longer match. I’ve looked on several Mopar forums and there doesn’t seem to be any consensus on which lights are good — but they can all agree on what is crap.

So, I am willing to spend $300 on a proper headlight upgrade if that’s what it takes. I see a few conversions where you bake the headlights at low temp to release the glue and then put bi-xenon with the flappy shield in with the ballasts and wiring kit. They sound reasonable but there are some other projector-style lights out there that would be less work if they are focused and aligned properly. I’m mechanically inclined but with family and other projects I would rather spend less time on these and more time on replacing stuff like the worn grommets on the electric seat adjustment screws and such. (At 190,000 miles, it needs front suspension bushings, too.)

Read More >

By on March 21, 2017

Picoscope NVH diagnosis tool, Image: Twitter

Doug writes:

I have a 2007 Mercedes-Benz S550. I accidentally bought it in 2014 off eBay (long story) for about trade-in ($13,000), with 150,000 miles on the odomater. In a twist of good luck, it turned out to be a one owner car and using CarFax I was able to see and verify that it had been maintained by the selling dealer right up to a few weeks before its eBay appearance. A call to the dealer confirmed the complete service history. Even the brake pads and rotors were new, and it had a newish and very expensive set of Michelins. Almost three years later, it has been very reliable for my teen daughter and has 180,000 miles. It had a few quirks I have fixed myself (clogged charcoal canister, minor trunk leak caused by a missing rubber plug, sticking power driver seat) and only one real repair (dead stereo amp rebuilt by Becker).

Now that my daughter is off at college and content with a ZipCar, I am driving it and intend to keep doing so. I have noticed a vibration in the center console area of all places, while driving around town. You feel it through your arm resting on the console lid. It’s a deep vibration, if that makes sense — coming from under the car.

You don’t feel it in the seat, nor do you feel it in the steering wheel. You do not feel it at a standstill, just at 20-30 mph. It goes away at higher speeds, and the car is rock solid and smooth as glass at 75 mph. I am stumped as to the cause, and with the age of the car, I don’t want to set a dealership or even an indy shop loose on it without more of an idea of the cause. I was thinking maybe a motor mount, but it seems like I would feel that all the time, and especially at idle, which I don’t. I was wondering about maybe some kind of driveshaft or transmission mount or connection point, but it seems like a fault that would get worse with increasing speed instead of going away. Do you have any ideas?

Read More >

By on March 14, 2017

1994 Buick Roadmaster Sedan, Image: General Motors

Timothy writes:

I need help bringing my 1994 Buick Roadmaster out of the dark ages.

This sedan was the last car my parents bought and I’ve had it for several years now (143,000 miles). I love the huge interior and I’ve always been a fan of Buicks for general motoring. (See what I did there?)

Seriously, I like the car a lot, but it’s so … wallowy, if that’s a word, that I don’t drive it much. I’d love to have a more European tautness to the suspension and steering. The trouble is that I know nothing about cars. You guys talk about the W126 Mercedes and Fox body Fords and I get lost real quick. I’ve inherited a garage full of tools, and since I don’t use the car as everyday transport, I’d like to try and do a few things myself. Bigger things will be done by my trusted mechanic.

And please, I’d rather not get as involved as your Valentino swap, which is awesome!

How can I upgrade the suspension and steering, yet still keep that awesome Buickness?

Once that’s straightened out, I’d like to know more about why the heater core needs to be “blown out” twice a year. Read More >

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