By on January 5, 2017

candytangerineptcruiser

Longtime TTAC Commentator Nate writes:

Hello Sajeev,

An acquaintance bought a PT Cruiser new in 2002 and did some minor customizing, drove the crap out of it for a few years, then the transmission failed. Apparently, they “all do that.” So here’s the deal: I was out scavenging vintage (’77~’85) Mercedes parts and ran across a rolled and totaled 2008 PT Cruiser: can its transmission be used in his 2002 model ?

He seems to think that 2002 is a one-year-only deal. He’s disabled and on a tight budget, says the car is worthless even though it’s pristine, but he’d like to fix it if possible. Unfortunately. rebuilding the current transmission is not in his budget.

Any thoughts or comments would be helpful, but no, I won’t be doing a tranny swap on this cute little car. (Read More…)

By on December 13, 2016

2017 Malibu 9T50 nine-speed automatic - Image: General Motors

We moved past three on the tree. We’ve long since bid farewell to four on the floor. The ZF six-speed automatic transmission that helped to make the 2001 BMW 7 Series seem so forward-thinking at the dawn of the millennium was usurped by a seven-speed unit from Mercedes-Benz a couple of years later, and then by the Lexus LS’s eight-speed automatic in 2007.

Nine-speed automatics are all over the place: in the 2017 Acura MDX I’m driving this week, in numerous Fiat Chrysler Automobiles products, and in ten General Motors models by the end of 2017. Now the most popular line of vehicles in North America, the Ford F-Series, is arriving at dealers near you with ten-speed automatic transmissions.

But when is enough enough? How many gears is too many? Are there diminishing returns as the number of gears in an automatic transmission increases?

GM says nine is enough. Okay, ten is plenty if you insist. Ah, whatever, maybe more would be wonderful.  (Read More…)

By on October 25, 2016

2008 Ford Fusion Automatic Shifter, Image: Ford

Mike writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I bought my 2008 Ford Fusion V6 AWD about two years ago from a Ford dealer. At the time, it had about 65,000 miles. I’m now at 85,000 miles. I also bought the three-year extended warranty (one year left).

Despite my usual aversion to buying extended warranties, it’s proven to be a sound investment. I’ve had a few things (including an oil leak) fixed for free (minus deductible). The warranty has already paid for itself. The dealer I used for the warranty service (not the purchasing dealer) gave me a few free oil changes and some credit on an account, so I’ve been going there for routine oil changes/tire rotations.

At the last oil change/tire rotation, I noticed they didn’t check the transmission fluid. I asked them to do so. The technician checked the fluid: it was at the correct level, but getting dirty. I asked if I should change it and he mumbled, “If you don’t do it now, don’t ever do it. Transmissions get used to the fluid and replacing it might ruin the transmission.”

(Read More…)

By on August 26, 2016

2016 chevrolet spark ls

Are you sure you want to save the manuals?

In theory, of course, you want to save the manual transmission. You enjoy driving. You enjoy enhancing the man-machine connection by synchronizing movements between your left foot, right hand, and right foot. You value the art of a perfectly timed shift, of properly holding a gear through a corner when even the most intelligent automatic would upshift. You know the corner. You know driving. You know how to get the best out of a Ford Fiesta ST half an hour before sunrise on Italy’s Stelvio Pass, even though you’ve never set foot outside Iowa, even though you drive a RAV4 Hybrid.

“What? I would’ve gotten a manual if Toyota offered one,” thou doth protest too much.

As we approach greater degrees of autonomous driving, as roads fill up and speed limits are not altered to reflect our vehicles’ huge improvements in stopping ability and safety, saving the manuals sounds like a noble campaign. Preserve that last shred of pure driving already forsaken by Ferrari, by performance-oriented Porsches, by the general populace that believes their right hands are better off holding a skinny cinnamon dolce latte than a leather-wrapped shifter.

But I’m driving proof, a $9,995* 2016 Chevrolet Spark, that we shouldn’t paint with such a broad #SaveTheManuals brush. We should save some of the manuals, but certainly not all of them. (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2016

Welded-together Land Rover transmission

The saga of a welded transmission seems to have come to a somewhat happy ending.

The Reddit whistleblower at the center of this story, who is an employee of the dealership in question, provided TTAC the details on how the repair came to be. A representative from Jaguar Land Rover was also able to confirm that the incident was resolved, resulting in a satisfied Land Rover owner.

(Read More…)

By on May 11, 2016

Welded-together Land Rover transmission

The “Just Rolled Into The Shop” subreddit usually shows an array of some of the worst maintained vehicles that customers bring into shops — but a post today showed negligence isn’t solely limited to those bringing in vehicles for service or repair.

User Valkyrier posted a picture of a welded transmission and explained the circumstances: that a dealership technician dropped and damaged it during an engine replacement and was planning to reinstall it … after welding it back together … without telling the vehicle’s owner.

(Read More…)

By on May 11, 2016

The all-new 10 speed automatic transmission is the first 10 speed automatic for a volume production car.  The performance 10 speed transmission transfers power and torque with quick shifts and maintains more engine power after each shift. Image: General Motors

It’s official: the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will have more gears than a typical IROC-Z owner has teeth.

General Motors revealed today the new aluminum-cased beauty, touting 10 forward gears and upshifts quicker than a dual-clutch automated-manual transmission, will make its non-truck debut in the Camaro ZL1.

Did Camaro tell Mustang to step outside for a fuel-economy contest? Maybe not.

(Read More…)

By on April 27, 2016

ford explorer police interceptor utility

Ford Motor Company issued three recall notices today, but top billing goes to a sensor problem linked to the sudden downshifting (to first gear!) of certain vehicles.

That safety recall involves 202,000 2011-2012 Ford F-150, 2012 Expedition, Ford Mustang and Lincoln Navigator vehicles. (Read More…)

By on March 1, 2016

1998 Toyota Sienna XLE Front 3/4, Image: Toyota

TTAC Commentator MatadorX writes:

Sajeev,

I am hoping you and your readership can give me some guidance as to how far to take a vehicle overhaul: mild insanity or full on broke?

The vehicle in question is a 1998 Toyota Sienna XLE.

(Read More…)

By on January 28, 2016

Rob writes:

Hello Sajeev,

I’m untangling a logistical nightmare and I think a Panther can help.

This particular nightmare involves relocating from Urbana, IL to Idaho Falls, ID, a 1964 Corvette convertible that’s sitting in Richmond, VA, and a Grand Marquis in New Jersey. The Corvette “ran when parked” in my father-in-law’s garage in 1982 and brought back to Illinois by me using a rental van towing a car hauler. A moving company will take care of the move to Idaho including transporting one car, but not the Corvette because the car has to be operational. In the meantime, my Dad needs to sell my grandfather’s Grand Marquis.

(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 November 18, 2015

Steve writes:

Sajeev,

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: www.britishv8.org)

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…)

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