The Truth About Cars » swanga The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 12 Apr 2014 23:33:02 +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 » swanga 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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Piston Slap: 100,000 Mile Tune Ups, Dex-Cool, Grandma’s S.L.A.B. Mon, 11 Feb 2013 12:52:26 +0000 Justin writes:


I have a 2001 Buick Regal LS. I bought it in 2007 with 14,000 miles on (yes, from a grandmother). It has 72,000 miles on it as of this morning. It’s not a great car and has required plenty of maintenance (for example, I’ve had to replace the brakes completely 3 times already). However, I have a few questions about long term items:

1. Spark plugs. Should I change them? The owner’s manual specifies 100,000 miles; does time play a factor in that at all? I’ve read that sometimes the back 3 never get changed anyway (apparently it’s a PITA).

2. Coolant. I had it changed once in 2008 (it’s Dexcool) because I had been reading the horror stories. How often should I be changing this?

I’m unsure how long this car is going to last, but I’ll keep limping it along until the cost gets too high. So cost is a factor here too.


Sajeev answers:

As you learned, buying a low mile original car isn’t necessarily a great idea. Unless you buy it for an occasional, collector type of vehicle. (*cough* H-town swanga *cough*) Though a 6-year-old car with low miles doesn’t exactly fit this definition: you replaced the brakes three times in the past 58,000 miles?  Whaaaa?


Either you got screwed by a mechanic or you are a seriously aggressive driver that needs elbows and vogues to slow yourself down.  Perhaps you should take a page from the Houston playbook, and keep that GM sedan Slow Loud And Bangin’.  But I digress…

  • Spark plugs: the 100,000 mile tune-up interval has been proven valid for every car I’ve seen, mostly because platinum plugs are that great. There’s a chance that age hasn’t been kind to the ceramic part of the plugs, but if the car idles smooth when cold, gets good mileage, decent power, no check engine light, etc…don’t worry about it.
  • Previously discussed here, here and here, Dex-Cool is a bizarre case where you can either flush it out (entirely, no margin for error) and switch to another type of coolant, or continue topping off with a Dex-cool compatible coolant, or you can continue to use Dex-Cool and service it as per the owner’s manual.  If you choose the latter, I’d service a little more regularly than suggested…out of fear of the Dex-Cool devil that comes from neglect.

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



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