Piston Slap: In Accordance With Wants and Needs

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap in accordance with wants and needs

Matt writes:

Hi Sajeev!

I submitted a question last year about which SUV/CUV we should buy to replace my wife’s 2005 Odyssey. I admit that I may have embellished my description of some of her thoughts and feedback during that process when I submitted my question the last time–mostly in the spirit of satire. Well, some of the B&B didn’t catch on to that and they ended up flaming her pretty badly. I was so excited to see your response that I showed the post to her before reading through the comments. She’s more thorough than me and did continue on into the comments.

To make a long story short, it wasn’t pretty for me.

Fortunately, we’re still married and we replaced the Ody with a 2013 Highlander Limited, initially Steve Lang’s suggestion, and seconded by several commenters. She’s had it now since March and is generally pretty happy with it.

Since my experience went so well the last time (/sarcasm), I thought I’d submit another one related to my 2001 Honda Accord EX 4 cyl. with 122,000 miles.

I can’t really say anything bad about it. Sure, it’s on its 3rd transmission, but two of those failures were within months of each other, and since the last one was put in about 7-8 years ago, I’ve not had any problems. It’s in fine shape cosmetically with no rust, though the alloy wheels are starting to get a bit rough. At my last oil change, my mechanic said everything looks really good underneath and in the engine compartment and he expects it will live a long time. The inside is clean, though some of the rubberized plastic on the center console is getting a bit sticky due to UV exposure. Basically, nothing is wrong with it, and I don’t expect any expensive repairs any time soon. The only other part that’s needed replacement was the timing belt at 100K.

I use the car mainly as a commuter (13 miles one-way on country back roads through the corn fields) and errand runner around town. It might take 1-2 longer trips per year (

Obviously, I don’t need to replace the car for any reason, other than I’ve been driving it for 12 years and am in the mood for a change. I saw the new Accord, and really liked the looks of it. That got me thinking about new cars in general. I don’t honestly know what I would replace it with. Lots of vehicles on the wish list (Ram 1500, Mustang GT, Mazda 6, Honda Accord, Chrysler 300 V-8, Jeep Grand Cherokee), but that’s not really at the heart of this question. It’s more about whether I should keep it or move on.

I’m generally a keeper (obviously), and find pleasure in not wasting, whether it’s money, energy, time, etc. There’s something I enjoy about hanging on to something that has plenty of life left in it. As long as the thing doesn’t look like a complete hooptie, I enjoy it. My 9 year-old son is also quite fond of the car and has informed me that he wants it when he turns 16. Also, considering the way in which I use, it, there’s really no need for another vehicle (though there are plenty of days I dream about how easy that home project would be with a pick-up).

On the other hand…

It seems like cars have come so far in the last 12 years, and I wouldn’t mind enjoying some of the comfort and convenience features that can now be had. I really am a bit of gear head at heart, and I do tire of constantly reading about (and lusting after) new cars, but doing nothing about it. As much as I enjoy being a keeper, there is part of me that says “to heck with it, just get that rear-drive car with the manual transmission and V8 that you’ve always wanted!”

Sajeev, I’m conflicted. What is a man to do?



P.S. I’m pretty sure a panther will not scratch that itch…sorry.

Sajeev answers:

Pro Tip: consider a heavily depreciated Ford Econoline conversion van instead of Panther Love if you put words in your wife’s mouth again…cuz you’ll be sleepin’ in the street, son!

I don’t recall my previous suggestions, it’s impossible to Google considering the number of cringe-worthy instances when a reader gives an incorrect elaboration on/assumption of the needs of one’s spouse. (Never mind, the B&B found it, thanks!) And, with your marriage in mind, I can’t tell you to repress/take action on your lust for a newer, more tech savvy, more exciting machine. Because your Accord sounds like a peach and we got bigger problems in life.

I consider you to be a lucky man to be in such a position. My advice?

  1. Test Drive any car you might possibly want, within the confines of your budget and future expenses. You know, things like the kid’s college tuition, a new roof, divorce lawyer, etc.
  2. Rent something with all the toys/gadgets for a week.
  3. Ask your wife and do whatever she says.
  4. Get an Executive Decision Maker and run with it.


[Image: Shutterstock user ta.dsgn]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. 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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2 of 90 comments
  • Car Ramrod Car Ramrod on Dec 31, 2013

    I was in a similar situation with a 2004 TL that I bought new. Nothing was wrong with it, but 9 years is a long time. At the 7-year mark, I went with a nice set of +1 wheels, Potenzas, and an ipod hookup, but the itch for a V8 returned. The TL was a great car, but I was shocked at how much it fetched on craigslist (it was a stick). If you're really on the fence, put it up for sale for stupid money and see if anybody cares... just be prepared to rent something for a few weeks while you find your next car.

  • AllThumbs AllThumbs on Jan 02, 2014

    How about this plan? 1) Buy the best car you can for $1000 on craigslist (by "best" I mean the one you want most that is inspected and sounds reasonably reliable). Put $1500 in the search field and assume you'll find something you like for $1000 or less. (It works if you're patient. I've bought four cars under $2500 in the past three years and still have them all.) 2) Sell your car. I imagine you'd get $2000 for it easily in Chicago right now. 3) Drive your "new" not-so-great-but-interesting-to-you car until you decide what to do. Maybe you sell it and buy a brand new car. Maybe you sell it and buy another cheapo. Either way, you maximize the value of the car you're n longer in love with, give yourself a driver, and buy some time with $1000 saved.

  • Bullnuke Well, production cuts may be due to transport-to-market issues. The MV Fremantle Highway is in a Rotterdam shipyard undergoing repairs from the last shipment of VW products (along with BMW and others) and to adequately fireproof it. The word in the shipping community is that insurance necessary for ships moving EVs is under serious review.
  • Frank Wait until the gov't subsidies end, you aint seen nothing yet. Ive been "on the floor" when they pulled them for fuel efficient vehicles back during/after the recession and the sales of those cars stopped dead in their tracks
  • Vulpine The issue is really stupidly simple; both names can be taken the wrong way by those who enjoy abusing language. Implying a certain piece of anatomy is a sign of juvenile idiocy which is what triggered the original name-change. The problem was not caused by the company but rather by those who continuously ridiculed the original name for the purpose of VERY low-brow humor.
  • Sgeffe There's someone around where I live who has a recent WRX-STi, but the few times I've been behind this guy, he's always driving right at the underposted arbitrary numbers that some politician pulled out of their backside and slapped on a sign! With no gendarmes or schoolkids present! Haven't been behind this driver on the freeway, but my guess is that he does the left lane police thing with the best of 'em!What's the point of buying such a vehicle if you're never going to exceed a speed limit? (And I've pondered that whilst in line in the left lane at 63mph behind a couple of Accord V6s, as well as an AMG E-Klasse!)
  • Mebgardner I'm not the market for a malleable Tuner / Track model, so I dont know: If you are considering a purchase of one of these, do you consider the Insurance Cost Of Ownership aspect? Or just screw it, I'm gonna buy it no matter.The WRX is at the top of the Insurance Cost pole for tuner models, is why I ask.