The Truth About Cars » sticky The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:45:01 +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 » sticky Piston Slap: E36, The Immaculata! Mon, 09 Jul 2012 10:37:44 +0000

Robert writes:

Sajeev -

My wife drives a 1998 328i that we bought new for her- it currently has 64,300 miles on it. She drives it more or less daily (just not very far) so we couldn ’t just get rid of it; it would have to be replaced. I call this car ”The Immaculata” as it lives in covered parking and is often mistaken by her un-car-savvy girlfriends as almost new.

Unfortunately that isn’t the case. It got a new hood and fender after ”an incident”, and it’s ticked off the list of usual E36 demands. New shocks, radiator, etc. However it’s gotten everything it wanted including regular oil changes and radiator and brake flushes and a transmission flush as well.

Now it’s advanced down the list to having the HVAC mix door slam open when the heat comes on. My Independent macanic say $1,500 to fix that but it annoys the wife.

Thought about replacing the car, but I’m kind of stuck. She’s used to her heated seats and the easy power of the BMW. The suggestion of a new Mini was sneered at. However obviously this car, even in great condition as it is won’t be worth enough to make the trade for a new 3 – and she won’t eventry driving my 2011 anyhow.

So… should I bite the bullet and fix the noise she’s complaining about, bite the shotgun shell and dump it while it’s as valuable as it will ever get and buy a new car she doesn’t want, or tell her she’s crazy and that I don’t hear the noise?

Sajeev answers:

I sure as hell wouldn’t trade “up” from a well-preserved E36 to a MINI: that’s like telling me to sell my well-preserved Mark VIII for an MKS. Keyword: well-preserved!

That’s the problem: when you have one of the best examples of a make/model, loved by car nuts and “un-car-savvy” girlfriends alike, there’s no trade that is a trade up.  Provided you don’t win the lottery, of course. And I think the E36 is the best looking and maybe the best performing (these days used as a pure track car) 3-series ever made.  The E30 is frumpy and somewhat overrated (there, I said it), and every 3-er after has been too big, more Mercedes like and less fun to drive.

You could say I have a thing for the E36. Especially when it sounds like you have some misbehaving foam at the heart of the matter.  And after doing a similar thing on my Mercury Cougar, I can say that replacing all parts in the HVAC box (heater core, evaporator, blower motor, any known electric malcontents, etc) makes the money very well spent. The best A/C in the Mehta garage might be the fully reconditioned unit in the Cougar. The air comes out delightfully cold and brutally dense, even at the lowest fan speed. Granted my car has 200,000 miles, the system was on its last legs and I did all the work myself, but this might be a small price to pay for you too.

My point: it’s funny how happy one gets when a large automotive expenditure yields added perks not expected to come with. Plus, you keep your prized vehicle on the road, in tip top shape.

But I could be wrong. So go test drive a lot of cars before committing to the expense.  Who knows, maybe a Hyundai Genesis coupe pushes the right buttons, at the right price. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit.


 Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Piston Slap: Shifting In, Wiping Out, Zoom-Zoom-Zoom Sat, 19 Nov 2011 17:13:09 +0000

David writes:

I am driving a 2010 Mazda3 2.5 with a 6 speed manual. 9000 miles in, the trans is still sticky, especially going into 1st while rolling. What could help reduce this?

Second, the automatic wipers are amusing to watch. How exactly do they work?

In Panther love, I sighted a sleek black Signature L, a rare one. 6 inches more rear leg room and 1 1/2 inch wider track. Should be a nice ride. The longer wheelbase helps reduce the inverted bathtub look.

Sajeev Answers:

Oh yes!  The only mode of transport better than a Signature L would be yesterday’s Cartier L. Or even better, yesteryear’s Fleetwood Series 75, any vintage will suffice. These irrelevant (yet always necessary) sightings of Panther Love show how everyone appreciates a bit of classical American proportioning rollin’ down the road. Too bad FoMoCo couldn’t re-pop the 1995 Cartier so the genre could go out with a bang, instead we get that “inverted bathtub look” as you so eloquently pointed out!

Now where were we again?  That’s right…

A sticky trans is a tough problem to arm chair.  Perhaps it is easier to shift once the transmission warms up after a cold night of resting.  Or maybe an aftermarket shifter would make the job more accurate.  Or maybe a heavy-ass 8-ball shift knob would act like a sledgehammer to your quandary.  My advice is to search the forums for your Mazda3 and see if a fluid change to some other design (synchromesh, full synthetic, etc) would help.  My second tip is to steal one of those round things from a pool table and screw it onto your gear stick.

Automatic wipers are amusing?  I rather dislike them.  And I’m not the only one. These systems (not just your Mazda) use a rain sensor mounted between your rear view mirror and the windshield, thus mounting the sensor on the glass, with a clean and convenient place to run the wiring.  This might be one reason why you see options like a compass or auto dimming mirror packed with said wiping system: wrap it into one wiring harness to save a few bucks! Brilliant.

Anyway, the system then manipulates the car’s conventional wiper motor much like the “mist” feature normally seen on your steering column. But instead of giving you the control via lever, the system does it for you. Which is fine, but I’ve encountered many a rainstorm where the sensor thinks everything is hunky-dory, but the portion of the windshield I use to see stuff is blanketed in water droplets. That won’t get wiped away!  Much like having a manual transmission, I prefer the interval wiper system with a handful of cycle times that I can choose.

Bonus!  A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

This rant is valid because, at the end of the day, driving is all about me.  Or you.  It’s not about the eyeball sandwiched between your windscreen and your rear view mirror. Believe that. 


Send your queries to . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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