Category: Piston Slap

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

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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

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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 >

By on April 21, 2016

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TTAC commentator Arthur Dailey writes:

Sajeev,

I take our two out-of-warranty vehicles to a local independent garage for maintenance. The owner is 100-percent honest and that is the most important thing. No unrequired work or surprises. He brings out all the replaced parts, the containers and bills for the replacements. He is not the least expensive, but he’s certainly less costly than any of the local dealers.

I have one vehicle, bought new, that’s had all work performed according to the manufacturer’s schedule. However, when I bring it in now, the conversation may go like this:

Me: “The book says that the coolant should be flushed and replaced.”
Mechanic (later that day): “I checked the coolant and it would be a waste to change it now.”

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By on April 19, 2016

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TTAC commentator kericf writes:

Sajeev,

I know you experienced the deluge of rain in Houston (Last October, and it was pretty bad. —SM). We live on the north side of the city and own a six-month-old 2015 Ford Expedition EL that has been outside its whole life (it doesn’t fit in the garage). It has seen much heavier rain than we had this weekend, but not a storm that lasted so long.

Water  somehow got into the headliner and dropped into the interior. It does have a sunroof and roof rack. The dealership has only had it a day but hasn’t been able to figure out the source of the leak. It hasn’t leaked before. We are baffled and I have a feeling the dealership will be too.

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By on April 14, 2016

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TTAC commentator VolandoBajo writes:

Sajeev, my worthy and esteemed fellow Panther defender,

I acquired my ’97 Mercury Grand Marquis LS about six months ago and have enjoyed everything about it. I’m hoping to find a good source for a dual exhaust that doesn’t cost more than the book value of the car, and to convince my wife that the mileage increase will pay for the mod over time.

But my present problem is baseline fuel economy. I see repeated references to a 20 miles per gallon highway figure, but I can only manage 17 mpg at the best of times.

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By on April 12, 2016

2012 Lexus ES350, Engine, 3.5L V6, Image: © 2012 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

TTAC regular PrincipalDan writes:

Sajeev,

With the price of gas dropping to levels not seen in many moons, a thought occurred to me: Many of us are driving around in an average vehicle that has an engine used by another vehicle advertised as having more horsepower and recommending premium fuel.

For example: Toyota’s 3.5-liter V6 powers the Camry and ES350, but the Toyota’s tests with 87 octane fuel while Lexus tests with 91 octane fuel.

Do the manufactures actually bother using different engine programing in these various vehicles? Or is greater horsepower just a premium fill-up away for those with lowlier vehicles with premium antecedents?

Read More >

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