By on March 2, 2009

TTAC hammers the auto manufacturers for their lack of branding fortitude on a daily basis. But my time earning an MBA mentioned something else: diversify your portfolio, lest you wither and die. Which, ’round these parts of the autoblogosphere, makes even more sense in tough financial times. So with RF’s blessing, The Truth About Cars ventures into the world of self-help auto advice. With a twist, because that’s how we roll. 

Right. So here’s the plan. You email me ([email protected]) with a question about your car. It can range from a technical or cosmetic problem, basic maintainence, performance modifications, or even make-specific used car purchasing advice. Using my 10+ years as a forum moderator and my accidential grease monkey knowledge, I will shine some light on the situation in true TTAC style. And that becomes a blog for the B&B to discuss. After all, the people who read this website have a collectively bottomless knowledge base, why not use it for the Greater Good?

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45 Comments on “TTAC Debuts Piston Slap...”


  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    So what should I do about the piston slap in my wife’s 2000 Subaru?

  • avatar
    elloh7

    This reeks of win. Oh, and awesome. Win & Awesome. I’m eager to see what comes out of this.

  • avatar
    86er

    I will find this interesting reading.

    With due respect, I might still venture over to dedicated sites (as per the vehicles I own) for mechanical advice or for very specific BCM gremlins, for example, but as I spend increasingly less time on other auto sites and more on this one, a one-stop-shop appeals to me.

    Thanks.

  • avatar

    Paul: trade it in on a 2000 Chevy Tahoe.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    I can contribute? I also turn some wrenches and have some fleet shop experience.

    I just don’t get it. Are you going to help people with their mechanical woes?

  • avatar
    austinseven

    I’d tread carefully out there if I were you.
    Just as owning a Porsche doesn’t make you a good driver, an MBA doesn’t make you a top notch auto technician.
    By the way, “maintenance” is spelled like this.

  • avatar

    Stingray: not just mechanical, it can be about anything that pertains to your car. Buffing paint, wiring up an aftermarket amplifier, short ram intake, whatever.

    The plan is to have the B&B (like yourself) fill in the blanks on whatever answer I give. The blog posts will either compliment initial diagnosis with more detail…or correct me. I’m hoping the latter won’t happen very often.

  • avatar

    austinseven : an MBA doesn’t make you a top notch auto technician.

    You mean I did all that for nothing? Jeez, its like I’ve been lied to all of these years! But that’s cool: I’ve been fixing/helping people fix cars for 10+ years, well before I even knew what M.B.A. stood for.

    I will not claim to know everything about the subject discussed.

    I guide the discussion and let you guys run with it.

  • avatar

    Well, I guess I hadn’t thought about it, but the truth about cars includes the truth about having to deal with maintaining them, issues, etc. So I say let’s roll!

    John

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Hey, if Click n Clack can do it, right?

    Sounds like a plan, you guys need to diversify because once this whole domestics dying like a brontosaurus being sucked into quicksand thing ends, you’ll need something else to do.

  • avatar
    pleiter

    Long term, is piston slap really the name you want to be a constructive advice column ?

  • avatar
    Mud

    I anticipate incurring the wrath of the Best and Brightest here, but the internet has yielded scores of brand-specific forums that not only have accurate repair info but a lot of tips and tricks along the way as well.

    I think that I will continue with TTAC for the outstanding editorials and latest news but will stick to the brand-specific forums for repair and maintenance needs.

  • avatar

    Mud : I think that I will continue with TTAC for the outstanding editorials and latest news but will stick to the brand-specific forums for repair and maintenance needs.

    Take it from this veteran forum moderator, that is the right thing to do. But I think we can:

    1. Cover material you do not normally find on these forums.

    2. Get a nice cross-section of questions for a wide variety of vehicles.

    3. Have some fun too.

  • avatar
    Aeroelastic

    pleiter :

    Long term, is piston slap really the name you want to be a constructive advice column ?

    I agree, good idea but the name needs work. What led you to choose that name?

  • avatar
    Mud

    Sajeev, thanks for your note.

    After I posted my initial reply, I was wandering around TTAC and got to thinking about all the info I’ve gotten here, especially about the used-to-be-big 3 (2.8? 2.5?). My family thinks I’m some kind of weird genius with all of my ill-gotten knowledge, but let’s keep that between ourselves for now.

    Anyway, second thoughts say why not return the favor and post up some participation to ye olde Piston Slap? Maybe I’m not sure how this will all work out, but at least I can lend some support along the way.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    Perhaps instead of a specific repair based question, I would like to hear the crowd’s ideas on more universal items that could apply across models and marques, such as our own best tips for detailing or just improving the finished look of our cars….just a suggestion.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    I only like this idea if it becomes a searchable database, thus allowing me to respond to every question with, “use the search button”. j/k..

    Actually I think it is a great idea. I do owe my brand specific forum more attention but I prefer to spend my time at TTAC. Also, not all brand or model specific forums are created equally. Some (most?) contain so much utter bs as to be rather dangerous.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    This is a great idea,it will be huge. Just get it started and the B&B will help you fine tune it.

  • avatar
    bumpy

    Apropos of the topic, how did GM manage to build engines with aluminum pistons for several decades before screwing it up in the late ’90s? And what can one do with those screwjobs, apart from recycling?

  • avatar

    Motorbikes also?

  • avatar

    aeroelastic and pleiter: My inspiration was Steven Lang’s “Hammer Time” series here on TTAC. I always liked the ring of “Piston Slap,” even if it has a negative connotation. And the real thing sucks. So I’m not married to the name.

    bill h.: I think that can be phrased as a question, thus fitting the workflow I have for Piston Slap.

    Tyler D: Probably not good for the mission of this website. Plus, I don’t know squat about bikes.

  • avatar
    JMII

    RE: installing amps – the fuse goes within 12″ of the battery, NOT the amp. Remember your protecting the wiring (and car) from a short circuit, not the amp.

    Anything else you need to know about car audio? I’ll chime in.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I want to buy an OBDII scanner to read fault codes. They range in price from $69 to several hundred dollars.

    I’m just a shade tree mechanic – and increasingly ignorant (can ignorance increase?) about the new technology.

    Which scanner should I buy? Any suggestions on brand/price range/features needed or not needed would be helpful.

    P.S. I do not want one that connects to a lap top. I don’t have a lap top, and I’m not buying one just to fix a ’98 Ranger.

  • avatar
    mikey

    GREAT IDEA!
    I just sent you something that has been bugging
    me for 3 years.Solve my problem and I will be a good boy forever RF.

  • avatar

    Thank you all for your emails, I have twelve questions as of right now. We will publish them as quickly as we can.

    I am both surprised and delighted as to how the B&B have responded. And I certainly hope you’ll like answering each others questions as they get published.

    This should be good fun.

  • avatar

    mikey, I got the email. Good Lord, your problem is horrifying.

    I suggest finding an exorcist.

    Nevertheless, I am on it and someone will get you in the right direction.

  • avatar

    Great! I was waiting for something like this.

  • avatar

    In response to MUd’s comment about brand-specific forums: the Honda forum (Hondaaccordforums.com, I think) has totally dried up in terms of advice. And much of the past advice was not exactly well-informed.

    I suspect we have a higher class of intellect on this site on average than the brand-specific forums do, and I think this will be a terrific addition to TTAC.

  • avatar

    Sajeev:

    Maybe I need “The Truth About Carburetors.”

    Dynamic88:

    http://tinyurl.com/brm7s3

    It comes with a book that explains the codes. It is the exact one I use.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Thanks Sajeev.

  • avatar
    campocaceres

    i like this idea! i used a do a LOT of reading on the dedicated car forums, even when it wasn’t relevant to me. it’s interesting regardless.

    this will probably appeal to the tinkerers here. but here’s hoping its more of a car talk kind of thing, interesting and entertaining more than the nitty gritty. still think car forums are better suited towards that..

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    This should be a train wreck. Love it.

  • avatar
    dzwax

    Train wrecks can be so much fun!

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    guyincognito :
    March 2nd, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    I only like this idea if it becomes a searchable database, thus allowing me to respond to every question with, “use the search button”.

    Now that sounds like Car Talk. I’ll reserve comment on TTAC’s attempts until I see them. Could be a good idea if done right, or a waste of time if done wrong.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    I can’t wait.

    Wonder what interesting spin this will have.

    Miata.net will be hard to beat for anything Miata related. So don’t try to beat them.

    They get raw noobies whose sometimes dumb, often repetitive questions are politely addressed by a mix of other OK newbies, medium car people and very serious car people. They also get excellent questions/answers from all corners.

    And non-questions; people send in lesson photo essays and all sorts of “here how it went” stuff. I would not have bought my NB Miata unless I saw how to make it fit my body there.

    Interesting to see how you join them since you cant beat them.

    Congratulations on your new venture.

    …Mud is right. Fuses are intended to prevent fires. Locate as close to power source as practicable so the thing will pop instead of having wire catch fire in traffic. And I suggest don’t use them anyway. Use circuit breakers. Made by Buss and available at NAPA in same physical formats as car fuses. Test the breaker before use?

  • avatar

    Dynamic88 : A basic OBD-II scanner is pretty much the same thing no matter where you get it. Check the price of this one at Harbor Freight:

    http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber=94169

    Oh, you can also go to local parts stores and they’ll usually scan it for free. Free is good!

  • avatar
    Usta Bee

    Sajeev said:

    “Take it from this veteran forum moderator, that is the right thing to do. But I think we can:

    1. Cover material you do not normally find on these forums.

    2. Get a nice cross-section of questions for a wide variety of vehicles.

    3. Have some fun too.”

    Fun ?….he said FUN ?!.

    OK, I’ve got a fun one….how do I get that “dead body smell” out of the trunk of a Cadillac DTS ?. Normally I’d just take the car to the chop shop, or ditch it in a canal, but times are tough and I need to sell the car this time to recoup my expenses on the hit…er, I mean “job”. Is there any special kind of deodorizer that would work, or will regular Fabreeze do ?.

    j/k

  • avatar

    You haven’t seen fun until you see my Inbox. Wow.

    But in the meantime: use a healthy dose of Ozium after you wash out the “dirty” carpet. Then again, I’d just rent the DTS as needed. Even the Mob must be feelin’ the pinch these days.

    (only kidding too)

  • avatar
    bubbagump

    On my recent Accord purchase I found it came equipped with a rubber mat that filled the trunk floor and had a 2-3 inch lip. Just the thing for preventing blood stains on the carpet. Must’ve been a Yakuza special order.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Irvine

    I have a Merc CLK320 topless. The doors go “crack”, “crack” when I open them. Not “squeak”. Is there ever anything better than WD40? (Which didn’t work)

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Piston slap!!!!

    Sounds oddly sexual to me for some reason. I must be a pervert!

    Maybe you could add a mini-section on like how to best maintain your car cosmetically too? Like how to wax/which wax to buy and all.

    Oh, also…
    Is this going to be like “Mechanic Corner” or whatever on timesonline.co.uk????

    Good luck to TTAC and Piston Slap!!!

    Is this going to be like “ask the mechanic” section on timesonline.co.uk? Like a Dear Amy or Dear Prudence except for cars?

  • avatar
    mikey

    @spike-in-irvine Use spray Lithium white grease as soon as you start to hear crack…crack.WD dries too quick.

  • avatar
    Mud

    Dynamic88, I bought a couple of those Harbor Freight scanners that Sajeev noted, I think at the time they were like $40 or so. I do have laptop software as well, but for the price I keep them stashed in the glovebox.
    They work fine for simply determining the trouble code and clearing same. Sometimes a bit more work is needed to determine the actual problem component, but at least you can get an idea of where to start.

    Example: a code that is reading “Insufficient EGR Flow” or similar language is not necessarily the EGR valve. I have seen more cases where it is caused by a faulty DPFE sensor than the EGR valve. The DPFE sensor controls the EGR valve so bad DPFE = EGR valve does not operate correctly, hence the trouble code that points to the EGR flow problem.

  • avatar

    Spike_in_Irvine: I’m gonna contradict mikey’s advice and recommend you clean all the weatherstrip around the doors (and body) and spray it with a shot of silicone lubricant. And douse the areas you used WD-40 with silicone, because WD-40 is nasty, sticky stuff.

    romanjetfighter: Is this going to be like “ask the mechanic” section on timesonline.co.uk? Like a Dear Amy or Dear Prudence except for cars?

    Ya know, I spent a month in London and I never read that column. This will be entertaining too, at least I’m gonna try. People laugh at my shit in real life, so why not?

    Mud: You nailed it. Dynamic can email me the trouble codes and we can discuss. Only problem is, Piston Slap will be much, much slower than searching the Ranger/Explorer forums for the answer.

  • avatar
    mikey

    sajeev: I’m assuming spikes problem is the door hinge.

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