By on May 27, 2016

gorilla dealer pic

The best thing about writing the Ask Bark series since the beginning of the year has been the feedback that you, the Best and Brightest, have given to our questioners. I might have a few good answers, but I’m only one man, and there are literally thousands of people who read each Ask Bark column. Collectively, you have wonderful ideas.

However, individually, you have some real clunkers. Today, we’re going to talk about the often given advice I’ve seen in the comments. Some of it isn’t just wrong, it’s flat-out harmful.

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By on May 19, 2016

2014 Kia Soul

On May 4th, my friend “Jenny” (whose name is changed for the sake of her privacy) could not contain her excitement. She posted the photo seen above to Facebook, sharing with her friends that she had just bought what she believed to be a brand-new 2014 Kia Soul from Orlando Kia West. She got what she also believed to be a rip-roaring deal, too, paying $4,000 under sticker.

Although the car was a 2014 model with 530 miles on the clock, Jenny said the dealer claimed it had never been sold to a private customer, but Orlando Kia West had to list it as a used car because it had purchased it from another dealer.

The minute I saw that, I immediately knew something was up. I contacted Jenny and asked her some questions about her experience. Fifteen minutes later, we were both furious.

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By on May 12, 2016

Ten Best/Worst Automobiles Today

When our esteemed Managing Editor, Mark Stevenson, gave you, the Best and Brightest, instructions for nominating the TTAC Ten Best and Worst Automobiles Today, he gave you several criteria: Looks that stop traffic, the “WTF” factor, misused technology, and misery factor. Essentially, you could nominate any car you wanted to (except the Compass), you just had to give a reason.

Mark instructed you to act like travel critics who’ve never left their hometown or restaurant critics that don’t go out to eat. In other words, TTAC allowed you to nominate cars you’ve never driven, have never sat in, or — heck — never even seen on the street.

That ain’t right.

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By on May 3, 2016

054

If you’ve read it once on the Internet, you’ve read it a thousand times: Conventional wisdom says the longer a used car sits on a dealer lot, the more likely it is you’ll get a good deal when you go buy it. People who’ve never spent a day in a dealership like to armchair dealer manager behind their computers and write about things like “floorplan” and “holding cost” like they actually know something about how a dealer principal calculates them, and how they affect pricing.

If this conventional wisdom were actually wise, then I wouldn’t be writing this column. Unfortunately, it isn’t, and adhering to it can cause you to waste a good deal of your time and money. Luckily, your friend Bark is here to give you the real scoop on how, why, and when you should buy at a dealership.

Go ahead, click the jizzump.

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By on April 22, 2016

Bark Mid-Ohio AER

“You know, if it’s not fun anymore, you could just quit.”

I stared at my father as he spoke these words, confused beyond belief. He had just picked me up from a brutal three-a-day football practice in the heat of the Ohio summer. As I sat there in the passenger seat of his piano black Infiniti J30, baking in the leather interior, I couldn’t begin to comprehend why he would tell me it was okay to quit.

Sure, I’d been complaining I was in danger of being passed over for a starting wide receiver spot, for which I’d been fighting for nearly three years. And yes, the practices were hard. We didn’t know much about things like “hydration” or “concussions” in the mid-’90s. We got water breaks about once an hour. If you got your bell rung, you just sat out a play and jumped back in. Sitting out too long meant that somebody else got your reps. But I never, ever considered quitting the team. Those guys were my teammates. My brothers. I could never quit on them. Quitting was for losers.

So as I stared at him, I decided right then and there that I wasn’t a quitter. Not only that, I decided that I would never become one. And that, my friends, is why I’m racing at Watkins Glen this weekend.

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By on April 11, 2016

Screen capture of video from Will Smith road rage shooting

It’s an all-too-familiar tale in the Crescent City of New Orleans, a city that has held the dubious title of “Most Dangerous City in America” on multiple occasions. 164 murders occurred in the city limits in 2015, the fourth highest murder rate per capita of any American city and the 32nd most of any city in the world, so it’s not unusual to hear of a shooting that occurred inside the Lower Garden District on Saturday night.

It’s a bit more unusual to hear that it might have been motivated by road rage, although we have certainly heard of that story before.

Yet, when a shooting involves one of the most beloved people in the history of the city, and when it begins to seem like there’s more to the story than just a traffic accident gone wrong, I begin to wonder how Will Smith ended up dead, slumped over the wheel of his vehicle, while his killer stood by calmly and waited to be arrested for murdering a local legend.  (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2016

The Mazda MX-5 RF, Image: PRNewsFoto/Mazda Motor Corporation

Kirk writes:

Bark,

Please advise a guy who just turned 50 and is rolling in a ’96 Honda Odyssey. My Ody was great, but the oil filter adapter O-ring recently failed and caused all of my oil to drain out while I was driving. It’s still running, but its days are numbered.

My wife happily handed me the keys to the Ody when we bought a new one for her in ’09. Yeah, we have two minivans. How great is that? The compromise was that she allowed me to get a motorcycle, which I have put 27,000 miles on in the last five years. I love riding my bike and dread the days I must take the minivan to work.

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By on March 29, 2016

1988 Pontiac Grand Prix Motor Trend Car of the Year Ad

Brad writes:

Hey Bark,

I’m currently driving a 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix with 220,000 miles and a transmission that is slowly showing signs of failure. Since they don’t make Pontiacs anymore, I’m not sure what to replace it with! I’ve had the car eight years and I’m happy with its power and utility. It fits my two school-age boys and has a big trunk. It even swallows mountain and road bikes with the seats down.

So with that as a baseline, I’m looking for a replacement that offers more precise and engaging driving dynamics, good reliability, good utility, and equal or better fuel economy. I live in the Northern Indiana suburbs and commute 65 miles round trip for work through a mix of country roads and two- and four-lane highways. I also have to deal with snow and the twisties don’t exist.

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By on March 10, 2016

ask_bark_answer_2

El Jo writes:

Hey Mr. Bark,

I’m looking for a reliable sporty or sportscar that I could get for under $6,000. This would be a daily driver, so it can’t be totally impractical, and I don’t want to have to take it to the mechanic all the time. It should be stick shift and newer if possible, at least a ’90s model. I’m not planning any track days, so the car would be something fun to drive on the street and on occasional trips through the twisties. Some obvious suggestions are a Civic Si or an NA Miata, but maybe you have a more unconventional answer?

If you have any interesting ideas that stretch the requirements just a little, I’d love to hear those too. I live near San Francisco.

Thanks!

God bless you, El. Or should I call you Jo? Regardless, I’ve spent my fair share of time bombing around the Bay Area, and I have a few cars in mind that I believe you’d enjoy greatly.

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By on March 8, 2016

2015 Ford F-150

Steve writes:

Mr. Bark:

My lady lives 650 miles away. Most of the time I fly to see her, but over the past 18 months I have put 40,000 miles on my Ford F-150 due to the odd weekends where it’s too expensive to fly, I can’t board my dog, or I want to do a detour and visit my parents in Arkansas.

What do you think is the best vehicle for frequent, long road trips? There has to be come kind of calculus that will help determine a balance between comfort, economy and longevity, but I keep coming back to my F-150. Also, breaking off the relationship with the lady is not an option.

Thanks,

Steve H.

Thanks for the formal greeting, Mr. Steve. Gosh, so many variables to consider, and less than a thousand words to do it in! Let’s get to it.

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