Piston Slap: A Citation Against Conventional Wisdom?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap a citation against conventional wisdom

“V” writes:

Hello Sajeev,

Conventional wisdom says wait until the second model year of a new vehicle since that’s when the automaker will have fixed the glaring flaws decried by the “beta testers” who bought the first model year. Is this always true?

Do automakers fix problems “on the sly” so that, say, a 2016 model year car manufactured in August 2015 could already incorporate some/all fixes slated for 2017 model year?

Sajeev answers:

The photo above came from a Curbside Classic about the Chevy Citation. The original 1980 model was one of the most recalled vehicles in automotive history, but I found only one recall for its Toyota-branded competition — the V10 body Camry. (And the Camry’s voltage regulator problem was, relatively speaking, quite harmless.)

Applying this historical perspective to your question, would you buy a bugs-worked-out 1983 Citation or an untested all-new Camry for your next compact family sedan?

But that’s history. Today, the (aggregated) quality gap between Japanese and American brands is rather slim. So what constitutes “glaring flaws” in your mind? And does your opinion mirror that of every other car buyer?

Of course not! Flaws are in the eye of the beholder. Take the litany of reasons why Technical Service Bulletins are issued for any automaker. And as new technology is added on a regular basis, software changes happen frequently. Does one model year matter relative to the next?

Simply put, cars have too much frequently-revised stuff updated too regularly for the automotive conventional wisdom notion to hold water. Add the mechanics of how TSBs are created/implemented and there’s too much doubt that one year will be better or worse than another.

I wouldn’t put my money on conventional wisdom being right for anyone’s next vehicle purchase.

[Image: Gustavo Frazao]

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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  • White Shadow White Shadow on Dec 21, 2015

    I purchased a 2015 Grand Cherokee specifically because it was the 2nd year of the mid-cycle update, and the 8-speed transmission. So after a year with the Jeep I can honestly say that it is just as bad as the 2014 models. Never again will I own any Chrysler product. Yes, its that bad.

  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Dec 21, 2015

    New F150 with a new motor. The Internet's say it should be a disaster. Course they say I shouldn't come close to epa mpg either but I'm right on so well see. It replaced a made since 2005 Frontier (2013 ym) which was not bad but had definitely had a lot of cheap added over the years.

  • Svenmeier Speedometer display in the center console screen? Why? This is a dealbreaker for me.
  • Alan I do believe that traffic infringements penalties based on income will affect those who are financial able to flout safety regulations.When I drive above the posted speed limit I assess my situation using probability. If I'm confronted with a situation where time is of more value to me than speed I will speed if I assess the probability of a fine to be quite low. I can afford the fine, what I can't afford is the loss of points on my drivers licence.In Australia (12 points in QLD and all States have a point system) we have a points system attached to your drivers licence. An open drivers licence is granted 12 points every 3 years. So, if you receive an infringement for exceeding the speed limit it takes 3 years for the points to be removed. I generally get caught once every 2 years.I think a points system would be a fairer system over a system based on income. Its about retaining your licence and safety, not financial gain by the government.As you can see below it wouldn't take long for many US drivers to lose their drivers licence.[h2]Current penalties for individuals caught speeding[/h2]InfringementPenalty amountDemerit pointsLess than 11km/h over the speed limit$287. 1 pointAt least 11km/h but not more than 20km/h over the speed limit$431. 3 pointsMore than 20km/h but not more than 30km/h over the speed limit$646. 4 pointsMore than 30km/h but not more than 40km/h over the speed limit$1,078. 6 pointsMore than 40km/h over the speed limit$1,653. 8 points and 6 month suspension
  • Wjtinfwb Instead of raising fines, why don't the authorities enforce the laws and write tickets, and have judges enforce the penalty or sentence of a crime. I live across the street from an Elementary School on a 4-lane divided state highway. every morning the cop sits in his car and when someone sails through the School Zone well above the 10 mph limit, he merely hits his siren to get their attention but that's it. I've never, in 5 years, seen them get out of the car and actually stop and driver and confront them about speeding. As a result, no one pays attention and when the School Zone light is not lit, traffic flies by at 50-60 mph in the 45 zone. Almost no enforcement occurs until the inevitable crash, last year some zoned out girl rolled her beater Elantra 3 times. On a dry, straight, 4 lane road with a 45 mph limit. I'm no Angel and have a heavy foot myself. I've received my share of speeding tickets, lots of them when younger. Traffic enforcement in most locales has become a joke these days, jacking prices because someone has a higher income in as asinine as our stupid tax policy and non-existent immigration enforcement.
  • Jeff S If AM went away I would listen to FM but since it is insignificant in the cost to the car and in an emergency broadcast it is good to have. I agree with some of the others its another way to collect money with a subscription. AM is most likely to go away in the future but I will use AM as long as its around.
  • BEPLA I think it's cool the way it is.If I had the money, time and space - I'd buy it, clean it up, and just do enough to get it running properly.Then take it to Cars and Coffee and park it next to all the newer Mustangs.