By on October 29, 2015


Peter writes:

Hi Sajeev,

My mother-in-law in New England drives a fifteen-year-old Mazda Tribute with a manual transmission that is way overdue for replacement. She won’t settle for anything that doesn’t have 1) the ability to power all four wheels equally at the same time (I think her Mazda has a button or lever to engage the 4WD, so it doesn’t have to be a full-time 4WD system), and 2) a manual transmission. She is suspicious of the modern “all-wheel-drive” systems found on Subaru, etc., and swears that nothing works in the snow like 4WD.

(Read More…)

By on October 13, 2015

Stefan writes:

Dear Sajeev,

I am the last person who would want to be even peripherally involved in you losing your job or impeding that great Lincoln rebuild. I am a loyal reader of TTAC and “slavishly” read your column.

My Subie is just touching 120,000 miles. It has been a really great, reliable ride and I fortunately have a good dealer and private mechanic for the routine issues that pop up.

I want to keep the car as long as possible. I do oil changes and the roughly 60,000 mile recommended scheduled service on time. The engine sounds good, has good (for a Subie) pick-up, averages 20 to 23 miles per gallon, and still has a tight body. I anticipate the need for new shocks at some point soon and a muffler/cat replacement. (Read More…)

By on July 6, 2015


New BMW M boss Frank van Meel says buyers may still have a choice between two transmissions, just between two types of automatics.

Talking to Autocar, van Meel said: “From a technical standpoint, the future doesn’t look bright for manual gearboxes.”

So goes another nail into the coffin.

(Read More…)

By on December 10, 2013


It’s not known if the leak was intentional or not, but the summary of a paper initially published by the Society of Automotive Engineers, since taken down from the SAE site, says that a new eight speed automatic transmission, given the designation 8L90 by General Motors, will be introduced in the 2015  Corvette, on sale next fall. The all-new 7th generation Corvette is currently offered with GM’s 6L80 six speed automatic and a seven speed manual gearbox. The 8L90 is described as being designed for rear-wheel-drive applications and variants will likely be used in GM’s fullsize pickups and in rear wheel drive Cadillacs.

The 8L90 has about the same overall dimensions as the 6L80, and is said to be able to handle up to 737 lb-ft of torque. It has a shorter first gear for better launch acceleration, an overall ratio spread of 7.0 and three speed sensors for better shift response. Other benefits are said to be better fuel economy, improved performance and a quieter car with improved NVH levels. (Read More…)

By on June 24, 2013

Picture courtesy the author.

There was some mild consternation among the Best&Brightest when I admitted to left-foot braking the Focus SE in traffic. To a man (or woman), our readers were not pleased at the thought that I might be bumbling along a freeway at ten miles per hour or so, alternately pressing the brake and accelerator with one foot per pedal. One wonders what they might have made of LJK Setright’s famous assertion that he occasionally drove cross-footed, pressing the accelerator with his left foot and the brake with his right, “to ensure that driving is a conscious, not unconscious, activity.”

In any event, I would suggest that there is one scenario where you may left-foot brake, one scenario where you should, and one where you absolutely must not, and I’ve detailed them below.

(Read More…)

By on April 6, 2012

A scheduling conflict led me to be booked into a 2013 Mazda CX-5 SkyACTIV. With Jack and Brendan having already driven the car, I’ll spare you all yet another review discussing Mazda’s latest crossover. But a week in the CX-5 raised an interesting question; when are automatics better than a stick shift, even if it’s a vehicle that (arguably) has some appeal as a driver’s car?

(Read More…)

By on October 19, 2011



Brian writes:

Not sure if this would be appropriate “piston slap” fodder or not, but here goes:
Our blossoming family recently expanded to five. My wife and I, and a three year old, a 20 month old and now a 2 month old fill up the house. We occasionally travel with our 75 lb dog. Knowing the Volvo Turbobrick would not handle the cargo/dog/people, and the PT Cruiser remains the most reliable vehicle ever built (even if the timing belt changes are a big pain) we decided to sell the Volvo for something more appropriate, if a lot slower and FWD.

Enter the Freestyle. We routinely get 28 mpg on trips, parts are cheap, we have lots of cubbies for kid’s junk and the car seats fit easily. I purchased a high mileage (150k) example that was a one owner (ish) with all receipts. It was a fleet car for some guy who then bought it when his company was done with it. It had the CVT replaced at 118k miles with a remanufactured transmission from Ford, installed at a dealer.

(Read More…)

By on January 4, 2010


TTAC commentator Kericf writes:

First, an update: I submitted a question on my Rodeo ABS and brakes before. It was just a bad sensor (probably from driving in high water). And I chose not to replace the brake lines yet after inspecting them.

Now, my new question comes way of a transmission fluid change on my wife’s 2005 Pathfinder. As usual the manual calls for only using official Nissan Matic J at almost $13 per quart. The local auto parts store sells Castrol Tranny fluid that says on the label it is a replacement for Matic J. I do not have any warranty left so I’m not so much worried about fighting over what was used, I just don’t want to have to replace the tranny because the fluid wasn’t the right spec? Am I worrying too much about it? Should I just dive right in and go?

I would also like to get some suggestions by the B&B on the best way to flush more fluid out than the standard drain 5qt out of the pan method. Is there a way to really get it all out on your own? I saw the product review on the oil extractor and was contemplating trying one out for the tranny fluid as it seems a lot easier and cleaner.
(Read More…)

By on November 23, 2009


TTAC Commentator jpcavanaugh writes:

A friend has a 2005 Acura TL which he bought as a certified used car at about 2 yrs and 40K miles on it. He bought the extended warranty to 100K. I recall thinking “its an Acura, why waste the money on an extended warranty?” It turns out he was right: at about 60K, he noticed an occasional judder during transmission shifts. The dealer informs him that the transmission is shot, and that it will be replaced under his extended warranty. After a couple of days, he gets the car back (he did enjoy the RL he got as a loaner) and the car is fine. Until now.

(Read More…)

By on November 12, 2009

Cruze control. Or not.

When GM CEO Fritz Henderson promised Congress he would run the nationalized automaker with complete transparency, we knew he was full of shit. How could anyone expect New GM to do anything but lie, misdirect, prevaricate and obfuscate when the same Bozos that ran it into the ground were still large and in charge? Which GM dealers are canned? Which GM dealers have been resurrected? Why? Who is the GM executive (other than Fritz) who earns more than $500,000 per year—that the company refuses to name? What are the internal targets that GM says it’s meeting? Why did the company overestimate sales of some of its key models in its November press release? Why did Fritz and CFO Ray Young promise a 2010 GM IPO without the Chairman’s approval? And so on. To that list, add this from the AP: “But GM postponed the Cruze’s April build date about three months, said Mark Reuss, GM’s vice president of global vehicle engineering. The company, he said, wasn’t happy with the Cruze’s performance, especially with the six-automatic transmission. ‘No one was thrilled with where it shifted, how it shifted.'” Well that’s the first I’ve heard of that. And while it’s nice that GM is putting our money where it’s mouth is in its desire to ensure the Cruze’s “flawless launch,” what the hell happened? And why wasn’t anyone fired for it? Oh right, GM.

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