The Truth About Cars » fabric The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 17:04:35 +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 » fabric Piston Slap: Fabric Tops vs Polar Vortex? Mon, 13 Jan 2014 13:25:43 +0000 Josh writes:

Sajeev –

Great news! After research, waiting, and a little bit of compromise, I have finally bought my first ‘real’ car. Last month, I bought a ’05 BMW 645i convertible with very low mileage and a clean bill of health. It is wonderful and brings me a little joy every time I start it.

Bad news! The country is currently gripped in a cold snap the likes of which we haven’t seen in 2 decades, and also, by the way, I live in Denver.

While I am more than comfortable with RWD in the snow, and I am getting used to not having a real spare tire, I realized that I had not considered maintenance of the top in cold-weather conditions. It is currently parked outside, and while a carport is available if I want to go that direction, I am more concerned what the combination of H2O and low mercury will do, at least until I move to a place with a real garage again.

Any suggestions how I can extend the joy and minimize loss when it comes time to sell? Thanks!

Sajeev answers:

Minimize the loss when it comes to sell?  Be more concerned with the litany of possible BMW E63 gremlins to keep at bay before selling it on to the next fan of such “real” cars.

And keeping the interior in tip-top shape, especially if you run everywhere with the top down.

But let’s talk about snow and convertibles: it could be a problem, considering last week’s polar vortex.  If wet snow and/or ice breaks tree branches and collapses roofs, they could bend your convertible’s metal frame.  Perhaps you could scratch plastic rear windows (not applicable here) with your ice scraper, too.

My advice is to keep the top free of snow accumulation so you’ll never worry about bent frame supports when hitting the switch.

Everything else?  Well, if you keep it around for years with no garage, the top’s gonna need replacement no matter what.  And considering the price of a re-pop top, there are far scarier powertrain/suspension/electronic replacement items on this Bimmer that I’d be worried about.

Bonus!  A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom: 

Do not leave valuables inside your car in plain sight!  A bad idea with any car, but even worse  in a drop top.  Taking a brick to your window to steal your iPod  is one thing, but a knife to your fabric roof to grab spare change on your console is another.  Hell, I’d consider leaving your convertible unlocked so someone can easily open it, look around for something to steal, find nothing and NEVER slap you with a $1000+ repair bill for fitting a new top! 


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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Piston Slap: Why dented roof, Regal? BECAUSE S.L.A.B. Tue, 02 Apr 2013 10:00:15 +0000

Ed writes:

Hello Sajeev,

Recently my GF and I became the owners of a 1999 Buick Regal with about 225k miles on it. We weren’t in the market for a Buick, but when a limb dropped on its roof from a dead tree was combined with a higher deductible and a desire to keep the claim off our homeowners policy, the natural thing to do was buy the dented car for the $2500 asking price. Now our question is what is the best way to get most of our money back from this “investment”?

A roof panel goes for 125-200 from the yards near me. I could cut out the old dented one, and set up the replacement to be welded in. I’ll be in it for the rear window, replacement panel, something for the welding and something to get it painted. I’m guessing $750ish, which doesn’t seem worth it. Now on the other hand, I could bang out the roof so its straight enough to get a rear window in there and buy some white vinyl and make a half vinyl top for it and try to get what I can for it. I’ll probably only be in it for an additional $300 max I think and would ask 2k or best. Or I could just cut my losses and take the $4-500 from a scrapper for it. Its got a 3.8 and still runs good. Whats the correct solution here?

Sajeev answers:

Quick answer: I’d fix the dent decently enough for a new rear window/headliner and go the full padded roof route instead. No half-vinyl tops on sedans without significant B-pillar trimming to make it work! (1980s Panthers, for example). Depending on where you live (i.e. the American South, anywhere with old people, etc) there’s a decent market for old school Buicks with even more old school styling. I’m talkin’ the moden NeoClassic, FWD General Motors’ family sedans dressed up like Super Fly’s sweet, sweet ride.

I’m talking 84s; SWANGAS on SLABs…son!

And, in the case of a white Regal with a gray(?) interior, make the roof material a contrasting color: dark blue, maroon…or money green if you got the balls of a baller. I see red and blue actually improving resale.

Ed replies:

Thanks for the quick reply, going with a colored top is a great recommendation. (No shit, really? Wow! – SM) I see a dark blue or dark maroon cloth instead of vinyl. It will probably cost a little less, they have some outdoor fabric at the fabric store, and the sewing machine we have will be able to handle it. I can put a couple of seams in there and make it all fancy :). I’m in RI, we have a good helping of older folks and urban folks that might like an older Buick. There are one or two other minor things to do, but the car runs strong. Just driving it around the block the pickup was enough to make me pop the hood and check for a blower, no super charger, just the NA 200hp there. The other good news is rear windows are $45 per If I can get this done for $125, that’ll be a victory in itself.

Any idea or links what/where to get foam padding? I’m thinking just some Home Depot insulating foam sheets if its thin enough, but I haven’t looked yet.

Sajeev concludes:

You are on the right track! I don’t know a good way to trim the material around the end of the C-pillar and base of the A-pillar, so I’m curious to see your solution! The aftermarket tops (installed by dealerships, or their sub-contracted accessory outfitter) have a custom metal trim with big, shiny screws to mount to the sheet metal, but maybe you can fab that up too.

Padding?  See what’s used in outdoorsy camping equipment, find that raw material at a fabric shop.  Even better, a fabric shop that sells Marine grade fabrics.  If all else fails, perhaps some sort of high density, high-grade packing foam will do?  You just want to make sure the stuff won’t turn into dust after a few years of heat cycling.

You have a real opportunity here: turning an American hooptie ready for the scrapper into a proper American Icon for a subculture that both creates and demands respect.  Be it for old people or, uh, young people.  We all like the same shit…and if you pick up a set of chrome rims for cheap, you’ll definitely remember the time you made lemonade out of a serious Lemon. That’s a seriously worthwhile memory.

Any way you dig this one: respect to you.


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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Touch Me! You Are Such A Turn-On! Tue, 31 Jan 2012 16:27:18 +0000

“With a languid stroke, her lascivious fingers caressed the seat. Out of nowhere, Chopin’s Nocturnes engulfed Rudolfo’s vintage Testatrossa in a sea of glissandi. Soon, Rudolfo’s  testosterone was on full volume. He opened the first button of her blouse, there was a pop, then – silence.”

If Maksim Skorobogatiy of the Polytechnic School in Montreal, Canada, gets his way, then this is how future novels will be written. Or car catalogs. Skorobogatiy suggests:

“In essence we are trying to reproduce the smartphone experience in textile form. We are looking for applications where we can weave in sleek, non-invasive control, avoiding blocks of push buttons.”

The Canadian researchers created a soft polymer-based fiber, or make that fibre, which has electrical properties that change depending on where it is touched. The fiber can be woven into any fabric. That way, it can turn a car seat, or the lady’s blouse (“it`s getting hot, mind if I turn this down a bit … there you go”) into a touch screen.  There already may be a customer.

“Touch-sensitive surfaces are a very interesting technology for controlling operations in a car.

So said BMW spokeswoman Melina Aulinger to the New Scientist, which opines that “it might not be long before something similar is seen in our cars.”

Totally overlooked, a recent BMW concept car that appeared in March at the Geneva Motor Show, was operated via a touch-sensitive surface, heating and music were controlled by the driver’s gestures, Aulinger told the New Scientist.

It’s probably all a conspiracy to wean us away from leather and make us buy chintzy fabric seats that interface with our iPod.

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