By on November 18, 2015

Steve writes:


My wife drives a first-generation R50 Mini base model with the dreaded CVT. This is a transmission widely reported (read: complained about on message boards) to not last well beyond 75,000 city miles. Hers is just now clearing 80,000 and it shows no signs of early struggles, even under the hellish torment of stop-and-go traffic in Houston temperatures.

Perhaps coincidentally, my wife has never put premium fuel in this car, despite it being a requirement. Premium fuel would supposedly generate 114 horsepower; without premium fuel, I would guess 7-9% lower, at, say, 105 horsepower. It is a slow car no matter what, but at least it makes up for it in urban maneuverability.

(Read More…)

By on October 27, 2015

Hyundai 1.6-liter engine

Hyundai announced Tuesday its 1.6-liter hybrid engine that will likely appear in the company’s Prius fighter when that car goes on sale around 2017. The company also unveiled a new 8-speed automatic transmission for front-wheel drive cars.

The new Kappa 1.6-liter GDI engine runs on an Atkinson cycle and uses cooled exhaust gas recirculation to increase fuel efficiency.

Hyundai said the engine would produce 104 horsepower and 108 pounds-feet of torque and would be used in hybrid applications.

(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 October 6, 2015


Oh yessss!!! (photo courtesy:

Nicholas writes:

A friend recently acquired the carcass (very deliberate choice of words) of a Bugeye Sprite. We were discussing what engine might go into it, and I was thinking that the turbo three-cylinder Ecotec would be a light but sufficiently powerful choice. However, I know very little about what is involved in turning an engine 90 degrees to run the rear wheels.

(Read More…)

By on September 29, 2015

2011 Scion tC

TTAC Commentator Sam Hell Jr. writes:

Hi, Sajeev!

I read with deep concern your notice that the Piston Slap mailbag was empty. You kindly answered my previous query about putting more conservative tires on my ’11 automatic tC (now at 51,000 miles), despite the fact that I erroneously addressed the email to your parasitic e-twin Sanjeev, and I’m happy to pester you/be of service once more. Please find, below, my questions, and thank you for your time.

(Read More…)

By on September 15, 2015

Raphael Orlove over at Jalopnik has fine, fine reporting
that the next-generation Audi S4 will sport a conventional 8-speed torque converter automatic instead of the company’s 7-speed dual-clutch unit.

The reason? The S4’s new turbocharged, 3-liter V-6 that produces 354 horsepower creates just enough torque (368.8 pounds-feet of torque, to be exact) to disqualify the automated manual. According to Orlove, the automaker didn’t rule out a DSG in the S4’s future, but said it just won’t be available at launch next year. (Read More…)

By on September 1, 2015


TTAC commentator Anomaly149 writes:

Sajeev, here’s one for you:

I have a CVT-equipped 2004 Saturn Ion Quad Coupe with ~140,000 miles. While you can write a book on the things that are weird with the car (key won’t release from cylinder sometimes unless you push this button inside the steering column, sometimes the neutral safety switch actuator machine-guns when stopped at a stoplight, it eats front sway links like it’s a contest, etc.), so far it’s been reliable and efficient. (Read More…)

By on August 25, 2015

2015 Jeep® Grand Cherokee Overland

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating complaints that gear selector handles on Jeep Grand Cherokees may slip out of park and cause the car to roll away, Automotive News is reporting.

Owners have detailed several complaints to NHTSA who said their Grand Cherokees rolled away while parked, including one person in Michigan who said a child was injured exiting the rollaway vehicle.

A similar transmission selector was used in the 2014 Chrysler 300. An owner complained of a similar problem in that car, where it rolled away and crashed into two other vehicles.

(Read More…)

By on August 4, 2015



Leather is better. (photo courtesy:

Nathaniel writes:


Long time listener, first-time caller. I’m responding to your plea for new Piston Slap questions. I purchased a gently-used 2008 GMC Yukon Denali AWD a couple of months ago. Other than its appetite for fuel, the only negative is that it has 141,000 miles. I believe the previous owner changed the transmission fluid at 100,000 miles (Carfax shows that the transfer case fluid was changed at this point, and I can’t imagine doing that and not doing the transmission). The fluid was relatively clean but I changed out several quarts via the dipstick tube using a fluid extractor after I purchased the vehicle, replacing them with the specified Dexron-VI. I believe the fluid level is correct but it’s difficult to read.

On a recent road trip, the 6-speed automatic (6L80E) transmission stumbled during the 2-3 shift while driving through the mountains and went into a failsafe mode. The check engine light came on. I pulled over, turned the ignition off and on again, and the truck operated normally. The CEL remained on for the next several ignition cycles. When I called OnStar to obtain the fault code, they could not retrieve it because the CEL was no longer on.

(Read More…)

By on July 15, 2015

Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG. Photo courtesy Autoblog

Mercedes-AMG’s incredibly busy 2.0-liter turbocharged engine will be busier next year.

The performance division of Mercedes-Benz announced Tuesday (via AutoGuide) the 2016 CLA45 and GLA45 engines would get horsepower bumps from 355 hp to 375 hp.

That boosts the horsepower-per-liter output from the little Affalterbach mills to 187.5 hp/l.

(Read More…)

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