The Truth About Cars » ESP The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:00:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » ESP Piston Slap: A Faltering Ford’s ESP? Mon, 17 Mar 2014 12:00:30 +0000

Mark writes:


I’m sure you’ve fielded similar questions in the past, but in the spirit of basic cable, here’s a potential re-run: I have a 2012 Mustang V6 with the performance package & a 6-speed manual. It’s coming up on 26k miles, so I’ve got 10k miles and/or about 9 months before the 3/36 bumper to bumper warranty expires. The car has had a couple issues covered under warranty so far, with the biggest one being a new steering box at about 15k miles. A nearby Ford dealer will sell me a Ford factory warranty (not an aftermarket roll of the dice) to basically double the 3/36 coverage for about $1200.

That comes with a $100 deductible, and if I sell the car before the warranty expires, I can have the unused portion refunded to me. Normally I wouldn’t consider buying an extended warranty, but I’ve had just enough trouble with the car up to this point, and read enough horror stories about the MT82 gearbox, to make me think about it. I’m really not sure how long I’ll keep the car, but I do like the idea of having that warranty security blanket as long as I do. What’s your take?

Sajeev answers:

Nothing wrong with revisiting a classic!  We’ve previously said that “scary” Euro-metal needs an extended warranty, provided you shop around for the best price. And that less scary metal might not benefit from any warranty, even the factory one with fancy Lexus loaner cars and plush Lexus lounges. So why not discuss in terms of Ford’s ESP plan?

This commonplace, low value Ford product (unlike the Lexus and BMW) is not an easy vehicle to armchair assess and judge.  Aside from the well known MT82, will an “unmodified” Mustang have significant failure in the next 72,000-ish miles and 3-ish years? I am guessing not.  And will the MT82 survive under the V6′s less aggressive torque curve and your shifting behavior?  That’s entirely possible.

Back to the unmodified part: assuming you aren’t skirting warranty issues with an non-stock engine tune (that pushes the boundaries of “safe” aftermarket air-fuel ratios) or aftermarket suspension bits, etc. you aren’t likely to break anything large enough to justify the cost of the warranty.

My gut says no, don’t get an extended warranty.  Instead get a local mechanic that you trust, and use places like Rockauto and eBay for getting spares. But if the peace of mind suits you, stick with the factory (i.e. Ford ESP) warranty and shop around: perhaps you can get it for less by emailing dealerships across the country.


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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Trackday Diaries: OSB, ESP, SRT. Mon, 14 Jun 2010 23:10:18 +0000

OSB. “Other Sports Beckon”. It’s what Skip Barber instructors reportedly used to write on the report cards of utterly feckless driving students. While the phrase may be long gone, the attitude persists among the instructing community that some people just shouldn’t be in the car. I often hear instructors at various events talking about just how horrible/dangerous/contemptible their students are. That’s not right. We are supposed to be coaching the driver to his or her best possible performance, not humiliating them by listing their flaws.

With that said, some drivers present an active danger to themselves, and to their instructors, on the racetrack. I’ve come up with a few guidelines to keep you, the reader, from becoming one of those people, should you decide to give this open-track business a whirl.

Do some reading. Everyone — and I mean everyone — who wants to set foot on a race track should read Speed Secrets by Ross Bentley. It will cost you ten bucks and possibly save your life. Read it. There will be parts about which you do not care, like the sections on passing during a race and all the parts where Ross complains about his Champ Car being a piece of junk. That’s okay. Read the whole thing. You may not understand it all. In that case, find your instructor before your first track session and ask him. Or you can contact me, personally, using the contact form at TTAC.

Practice the three phases of a corner on the street. The three phases of a corner are: brake, turn, accelerate. We don’t mix them on the racetrack unless we are working to do something very specific with the car’s balance. Practice getting all of your braking done before you turn the wheel into a corner. Don’t accelerate until your steering wheel is straightening out. In the middle of the turn, hold the throttle steady. Do it until it’s a habit. Do you want to kill yourself on a racetrack? The easiest way to do it is to steer and brake at the same time.

Learn to heel and toe, or don’t. It’s okay if you cannot heel and toe. If you cannot, we will keep you in fourth gear for the whole track. Don’t laugh. I did five full trackdays in fourth gear only when I started out. If you complain that you want to shift to “go faster”, I will explain to you that, of the forty-five seconds separating you and me around a racetrack per lap, only two of them are due to gear selection.

This is a race you cannot win. Because it isn’t a race. It’s an open lapping day. I know you will forget this. I know you want to pass people. That’s fine. If you listen to me, you will at least pass the students who ignore their instructors. Then you’ll “win”. Kind of.

Leave your friends, your significant other, and your camera at home. You cannot impress them. All street cars look slow on a racetrack. And you might kill yourself in the attempt. They can come to your first race, and you can then drive into the sand trap on Lap One because you’re so nervous about your friends being at the track.

The above is what I would tell people if they asked me about being prepared for the racetrack. However, they never do. They ask me which car they should buy/borrow/rent and bring. It doesn’t really matter. You will be slow on your first weekend, no matter if you have a Citation or a Corvette ZR1. So don’t worry about it.

That hasn’t satisfied you. You want to know what you should bring. Okay. The most important thing to do is to bring a “stock” car. Slower is better. The guy who spends all day lapping in a rented Camry finishes the day as a better driver than the one who missed two sessions fixing boost issues with his AMS Mitsubishi Evolution 1000XXX. If I could issue a car to every new trackday driver, it would probably be a four-cylinder Accord. They rarely break and you can learn a lot from the feedback provided by the controls.

I’d like you to have ESP/PSM/DSC/whatever. Some people absolutely panic and do the wrong thing on a racetrack. Normally, it’s a bad combination of brake and steering, often in the middle of a turn. ESP can sort that out most of the time. A bad driver “drives on the system”, continually overcooking into turns and brake-steering his way out with all four calipers chattering overtime from the stability system. Don’t be that guy. Use ESP as a safety net, not a crutch. Your instructor will show you how.

Some cars are exceptionally tough to learn with. My student yesterday had a Challenger SRT-8. Big, fast, two-ton cars present a lot of problems for instructors. The brakes fade without warning. The available power upsets the car and engages ESP at the slightest throttle misstep. It’s far too easy to arrive at the next corner at a deadly speed, and the student doesn’t always understand why I feel he is entering the corner too quickly.

By the end of the day, Mr. Challenger was doing just fine, but we spent two of our available four sessions fixing problems mostly brought about by the availability of 425 horsepower in the middle of a slow corner. Had he brought a Chevrolet Cobalt LS, he’d have finished the day a better driver.

I finished my day by driving the five-hundred-something miles home, arriving at 3am. In a few days I’ll be driving at a Grand-Am test day. Driving against the guys you see on Speed TV can be a bit scary. One time last year, during a Koni race, I had a GS-class Porsche run me off the end of the Climbing Esses at VIR. It was somebody I’d cheered on while watching World Challenge races. To this day, although I know I was in the right in that situation, I feel bad about it.

I thought a lot about my test day on the drive home. Long trips alone will make you think. I’m not always sure where I’m going, or why. There’s one thing I do know. For me, this is the sport that beckons.

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German Clunker Scheme Reduces Safety Equipment Thu, 06 May 2010 18:17:27 +0000

The predominant critique of the cash-for-clunkers programs that have proven so popular in the US and Europe is that they cause unsustainable demand bubbles which cause sales to collapse after they expire. Sure enough, a look at the German market’s Q1 performance shows that the OEMs who most benefited from the program (primarily firms who focus on low-cost cars) are seeing far more significant declines than US-market firms have seen. In the first three months of this year, firms like Hyundai (-40%), Fiat (-58%), Suzuki (-54.6%) and Kia (-49.4%) have been suffering mightily from a hangover caused by the world’s most generous cash-for-clunker program. But the big news isn’t this small-car bust: it’s the fact that these firms’ success last year have caused the percentage of cars on German roads with electronic stability programs (ESP/ESC) to fall.

The April print edition of Auto Motor und Sport reveals that the percentage of ESP-equipped new car sales in Germany fell three percent in 2009 compared to 2008. Based on national insurance data, the magazine figures 78 percent of all vehicles sold last year had ESP equipped, but that 190k vehicles were sold without the safety equipment. This goes against long-standing trends that were driving German-market ESP-equipped percentages inexorably upwards: in 2006 only 58 percent of all nameplates on the German market had ESP as standard equipment, while last year a full 74 percent offered ESP as standard. The difference is that, by stimulating demand for the most stripped versions of the cheapest cars on the market, Germany’s C4C program incentivized consumers to buy non-ESP-equipped vehicles.

Granted, a three percent decline will hardly have the most dramatic effect on national highway safety in Germany. What this unintended consequence does bear on, however, is an EU-wide effort to make ESP standard on all vehicles. By 2012, the EU will require all new vehicle lines and commercial vehicles to come equipped with ESP, and by 2014 it will require that every vehicle sold in Europe be equipped with ESP. In the US, standard ESP will be mandatory for all new vehicles sold starting in 2012. The European Union has regularly bemoaned the fact that Europe lags behind NAFTA on ESP adoption rates, arguing that the deficit costs thousands of lives and millions of dollars.

With Germany’s cash-for-clunkers program now expired (after spending about $7b), it’s safe to assume that consumer safety concerns and government regulation will more than make up for the slide in ESP adoption caused by the program. Still, it’s likely that the EU will remember this decline in safety, and discourage any future clunker programs until mandatory ESP fitting becomes law in 2014. But then, if the German market hasn’t stabilized by then and needs additional assistance, the clunker hangover will have been far greater than even the most jaded skeptics had predicted.

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