My girlfriend needs a car while in the midst of many other big financial decisions that severely limit her car budget. Here’s the situation. (Read More…)
The “family sedan” may not be very exciting, but without midsized sales auto makers would be in a pickle. Ponder this: the five best-selling midsized sedans in America accounted for 1.3 million of the 12.8 million vehicles sold in 2011. With numbers like that, it’s important to get your mass-market people mover right. This means competitive fuel economy, a low base price and swipe as much tech from your luxury brand as possible. Either that or just wear a Nissan badge on the front. Say what? The last generation Altima was the second best-selling car despite being long in the tooth and filled with Chrysler quality plastics. That made me ask an important question: Is the fifth-generation Altima any good, or is it selling well (now in third place thanks to the new Accord and Nissan’s model change over) just because it has a Nissan logo on the front?
I woke up bright and early on Monday morning, 7:00 AM. A wake-up time reserved for maniacs and those who have circadian rhythms that are the exact opposite of yours truly.
Just a 10 mile drive to a neighboring auto auction. A nice stroll to a back lot loaded with 91 cars for the 9:30 AM sale. The beauty of the day seemed to shine before me as I looked at what was supposed to be an immaculate 1987 BMW 524td that had all of 69,000 miles.
The day I knew was coming but hoped would never arrive is here. I have to decide whether its time to replace my trusty ride, a 1996 Infiniti I30 with estimated 235k miles (odo was broken years ago, repaired, and reset to a mileage amount we now think is low. actual miles is probably around 250-260k). The issue is an oil leak.
It’s now leaking at the rate of about 5 quarts every 3000 miles. I’ve been content to keep topping off the oil, but now the leak is causing other problems; specfically, the a/c and alternator belt will not stay on because the pulley is soaked in oil. Fixing the leak would be over $1000, and this would the third or so leak that we’ve plugged, only to have another pop up, so I’m convinced that if I was to fix it, a new engine is the way to go. I have an estimate from my mechanic (a very reasonable, trustworthy independent shop) for $2200 or so ($850 for a used local engine with 90k miles, $200 in other parts, and 13 hours labor).
I have a 2000 Maxima with about 155k on the clock. I purchased this car in Los Angeles and since 2005, it’s lived in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The main issue is that I can tell the transmission is starting to get a bit soft on the 1-2 upshift, specifically once it starts getting cold out. I presume the primary reason for this is the abuse it’s suffered at my hands. As it was a California car, it has no traction control and though I love it nine months of the year, it is utterly helpless in the snow—snow tires didn’t seem to help tremendously. I’ve had to rock myself out a number of times and I presume the trans has gotten overheated at least once. I’ve been good about changing the fluid (drain and fill 3x, filter too) about once a year but I think I’m near the end on this trans.
I own a 2001 Nissan Maxima and a 2006 Corvette, both purchased new w/cash. I know the Maxima with 105,000+ miles has had two ATF services, which included the “dreaded ATF Flush”. So far the thing keeps running, only issue (unrelated) was a Cat replacement (99,000) and 3 O2 sensors around the same time.
The 2006 Corvette at 5 years and 42,600 miles is due for a coolant service and I see that the ATF service is 50,000 (harsh) or 100,000 (normal). So far expenses have been limited to gas, once a year oil changes and a set of tires at 26,000 due to some aggressive driving, aggressive factory camber settings and a shard of metal. It’s been spotless so far besides a squeaky roof panel which has been solved by periodic application of Super Lube to some contact points. Should I do an ATF flush for the vette? It would be a BG machine. It’s a warm weather commuter for me (42 miles round trip per day of which 26 is highway miles on which avg. speed 75 mph which is just 3 days a week).
I have taken it on 6 long trips over the years as well as weekend cruises. I do use the paddles about 30% of the time, but do not really hoon it so much the past 2 years after getting 3 speeding tickets in 6 month period…which I fought and is another subject. So please advise.
Fred B. writes:
You recent article about racks prompted me to write. I am the proud owner of a 1996 Nissan Maxima. I’ve had it since about 30k miles. Over the course of its 209k mile life it has garnered additional accouterments along with its original generous kit. Specifically, the paint has gracelessly aged in the Texas sun to a rosy multi-hued patina that varies from nearly bare steel on some of the flat parts to the original red on the sheltered parts. The car hasn’t lived in Texas all of its life. Its formative years were spent in Indiana, where the salt festooned winter streets customized the underside. In fact, it used to make such a racket that I removed the heat shields from the exhaust system.
We lived in Los Gatos from 1987 to 1993. It was already becoming a high-priced enclave for Silicon Valley high fliers then, and now it’s utterly transformed. The Ford, Chevy and even the Honda dealers are now all shuttered, but the RR, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Bentley dealers are flourishing. Disneyland-esque mansions the size of hotels have replaced little ranchers. Driving back into to town after a wonderful hike in the hills with friends, I saw the ultimate extremes: a brand-new “reproduction” full-sized water-wheel “mill” on a dry, scrubby hillside, “turning” slowly while the pump-fed recirculating “stream” spilled from its “sluice” to “power” it. This thing was the size of a two or three-story house; a “lawn ornament” of grandiose proportions straight out of a theme park. Ok; I don’t have any problems with folks having lots of money; but do they have to spend it in such grotesque ways? But just a block away from our old house I found the perfect antidote to my nouveau riche nausea: a 1977 Datsun 810. (Read More…)