By on September 3, 2017

Chevrolet El Camino 1966

While there are dealerships that will happily service your vintage automobile, there are reasons a lot of classic cars are wrenched at home or taken to speciality shops. It’s not typically in a service center’s best interest to hunt down rare discontinued parts and train employees on the reassembly of carburetors. But it still happens, especially among premium brands.

Porsche is rather obsessive about its heritage and has extended that to maintenance and repairs at a large number of stores. It isn’t alone, either. Mark Rogers, a 20 Group consultant with the National Automobile Dealers Association, estimates as many as 1,800 U.S. franchised dealerships are willing to service vintage cars. Some are even selling them — putting desirable classics on the showroom floor in the hopes they might garner positive attention.  (Read More…)

By on May 1, 2017

Too Many Dodges

Early last week, I brought the Charger into our local dealer to sort out a passel of recalls, not the least of which was a computer reflash to bestow Auto Park capabilities on my ZF-equipped Dodge.

This new programming, it must be noted, not only added the Auto Park feature (which actually works so seamlessly it beggars belief that Dodge engineers didn’t include it from the get-go to save themselves a world of bad PR) but also changed the font in the dashboard EVIC. I now look upon my digital speed readout with a level of disdain formerly reserved for soiled copies of the National Enquirer. Comic Sans would’ve been a better option.

Anyway, the car was also due for an oil change, so I scheduled that service for the same visit. Arriving at the desk, the mental fog cleared long enough to bestow upon me the presence of mind to inquire the cost of a dealer oil change for my Pentastar-equipped Charger.

“Uhhhh … justamomentlemmelook.”

Pokes at computer

“It was around eighty-four dollars last time. Soooo …. about the same again?”

Needless to say, I canceled the oil change, proceeded with the recall work, and broke out my tools when I got home.

(Read More…)

By on April 4, 2017

Auto Repair

According to the American Automobile Association, one third of drivers in the U.S. cannot pay for an unforeseen vehicle repair without going into debt.

AAA says the average trip to the shop will set you back between $500 and $600. So, what does that mean for the 64 million American drivers who can’t afford an unexpected repair bill? (Read More…)

By on April 21, 2016

51eS+S+iQjL

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.”

(Read More…)

By on December 22, 2015

2011 Chevrolet Camaro LT with an RS Appearance Package

Casey writes:

Hello Sajeev,

I have another question for you. My wife has wanted a Camaro and lately I have been thinking about surprising her with one for her birthday or maybe Christmas, so I have been searching the listings for a nice used example.

First thing I noticed is these cars sure seem to hold their value!

I found a Craigslist ad for a very nice looking, well optioned, 2011 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT with the RS package. “ALL scheduled service and maintenance has been performed by Chevrolet certified technicians,” the ad says and the price seems reasonable.

Then I see the kicker: the mileage is high for the year at 117,800. I know that a documented maintenance history is more important than mileage, so I wonder what impact higher mileage would have on a car like this? What problems could I run into sooner by buying a well maintained, high-mileage car?

(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 2, 2015

impp-1210-02-o+question-it+burning-oil-exhaust

Engines burn oil, but how much oil burn is normal is at the heart of a Consumer Reports study that examined nearly 500,000 new cars for how much oil they have to replace in their new car’s engine.

It’s a dirty, dirty business.

(Read More…)

By on June 16, 2015

 

On My Way! (photo courtesy: www.thejewisheducationproject.org)

On My Way! (photo courtesy: www.thejewisheducationproject.org)

Anonymous writes:

Hello Sajeev,

I was in contact with Mark Stevenson regarding my terrible, and unfortunately pretty common situation. I am post DUI (sadly not my first), but have quit drinking and am well on the road to recovery. I live in a city that does not have transit that will get me to work on time and therefore require a car to get there. (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2015

MyrtleBeach

That moment you realize the oldest car in the parking lot is yours.

Yeah, I just had that moment.

The car in question is a 2001 Honda Accord EX. Four-door. Five-speed. A dodo bird of a used car stuck in today’s finance driven market. I walked around the parking lot you see above trying to find one vehicle, any vehicle, that’s as old as mine.

The blue ’05-ish Caravan on the bottom left came a bit close, but it didn’t happen. Instead, everything else seemed to be on the younger side of the curve, the overwhelming majority of vehicles sold new at a later time in history.

(Read More…)

By on November 12, 2014

 

Edging out a bit more? (photo courtesy: www.productwiki.com)

Mike writes:

Hey Sajeev,

Long time reader first time writer. So here is my dilemma.

I have a 2007 Mazda 3 sedan 2.3L with a 5 speed manual that currently has 97,000 miles on it. It is modified with a Mazda branded CAI and cat back exhaust. It’s been a pretty much trouble free car for its life. I’ve always maintained it in terms of tires, brakes, suspension, and oil changes every 4,000 miles. This summer I recently even took the car round trip across the country. Before leaving for that trip I had the power steering fluid, brake fluid, and coolant fluid flushes and new spark plugs. I also had the strut mounts replaced and the rear shocks done.

So after getting home from my cross country road trip I let the car sit for two days. When I went to start it up it would crank a bunch but no start up until I cranked, stopped, and cranked again. The mechanic confirmed my suspicions when he said it was the fuel pump, more specifically the check valve. He said replacing the pump could be close to 800-1000 dollars.

(Read More…)

By on February 25, 2014

Chris writes:

Dear Sajeev,

Back in 2005 I purchased a new Honda CR-V. It recently rolled over 200,000 miles. It has never given me any trouble or needed anything but normally scheduled service and the usual wear items (tires, brakes, battery). It has survived the New England winters rust free. Most importantly, it’s paid for.

Is there anything proactive I should do to keep it on the road, maybe even for another 100K? I don’t mind investing now if it will save me major repairs later. As trouble-free as it’s been I can’t see replacing it (nor am I in a position to right now), but given the mileage I feel like I should be waiting for that other shoe to drop! (Read More…)

By on December 10, 2013

autobahn

If you happen to live outside of Germany, you may soon find yourself paying a toll to do your best Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise impressions on the Autobahn.

(Read More…)

By on November 11, 2013

Dirty-and-Clean-Air-Filter

The contrarian in me loves it when conventional wisdom is proven to be not so wise. For decades, even before the first oil crisis of the 1970s, motorists have been told that making sure that your air filter is clean is one of the ways that you can improve  your fuel economy. It’s intuitive to think that a clogged air filter will affect the way an engine “breathes”, how efficiently it can get gases in and out of the combustion chamber and how that might decrease fuel economy. That may have made sense decades ago, however it turns out that two different studies, one on gasoline engines and the other on diesels, performed by a team at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, show that the fuel economy of modern, digitally controlled fuel injected engines isn’t significantly affected by the state of their air cleaners’ cleanliness. What made sense in the era or carburetors may no longer be applicable today. Apparently the engines’ ECUs working to keep emissions in spec are capable of leaning out the fuel mixture to account for a dirty air filter restricting airflow into the engine, resulting in insignificant drops in fuel economy. Though dirty air filters didn’t materially affect fuel economy in the modern cars, they did experience a decrease in acceleration performance so it’s still a good idea to replace a dirty air filter.

Abstracts of the studies after the jump. (Read More…)

By on September 25, 2013

James writes:

Sajeev,

My question is – when should I sell my current car? Our family runs a 2004 Pontiac Vibe with 109k miles. It is our only car and it seems to run better since it broke the 100k mark. It has been exceptionally reliable, cheap to own, and gets excellent mileage – I get 29mpg average! We like being a one car family and intent to keep it that way unless we suddenly become independently wealthy. (Read More…)

By on August 7, 2013

Screen shot 2013-08-03 at 12.02.41 AM

A few days ago I breathlessly described the highlights of old Porsche ownership – the immersive driving experience, the camaraderie among like-minded enthusiasts, and the opportunity to meet people through sharing the fun with others.  In a cliffhanger, I also hinted that there were some downsides to driving that type of car everyday… of course it’s not always halcyon days of empty roads and spirited drives.  I made that intimation for two reasons:  Sometimes the car can grate on the nerves of even its biggest apologist, whereas the remainder of the time it’s broken, with that same apologist’s wallet in peril.

(Read More…)

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