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Sajeev Mehta

By on November 8, 2019

Best Replacement Brake Rotors

TTAC Commentator tonycd writes:

Hi, Sajeev! I’m a long-ago occasional TTAC contributor, occasional B&B pontificator, and longtime admirer of your column, with a question of my own.

My brother just picked up a very used ’09 Mazda6 Grand Touring V6. Lotsa horses, in need of brake service to rein them in. He’s hearing and feeling a pulsing through his brake pedal, sort of a low rhythmic moaning tone. It could be wear indicators, but more likely it’s a warped front rotor. Either way, he’s pretty confident he’s going to have to replace all the friction materials, including the rotors.

Which leads to my question: What’s a not-crappy brand of brake parts? He doesn’t want to expend all the labor on replacement, only to have them immediately warp again the first time he heats them up (which he will – especially with 274 ponies, he’s an, er, enthusiastic driver). Everybody knows Brembo, but who else sells quality? (Read More…)

By on November 1, 2019

2003 Mercury Grand Marquis, Photo: Ford Motor Co.

Loooongtime TTAC Commentator Nate writes:

My barber is another Yankee-to-West Coast transplant and he brought a low-mileage 2003 Mercury Grand Marquis. It’s very nice but every now and then the air suspension decides to get wonky and the car settles down as he’s driving along. As a barber he doesn’t have much $ to throw at it, and he asked me if I knew what to do.

I think this is a Panther chassis so any old cop car or taxi’s coil springs and shocks should be a fairly easy air suspension-to-coil springs retrofit but I’m physically not up to the job. How do I find one of the myriad hole-in-the-wall shops that fixes up old cop cars for the movies and TV?

I’m sure they’d have the parts and knowledge on hand and be affordable to boot. Once this is fixed he’ll consider replacing the weepy AC evaporator deep inside the dashboard (shudder).
(Read More…)

By on October 25, 2019

Image: GM

TTAC Commentator OldWingGuy writes:

My question concerns how General Motors manufactures new replacement engines. Do they use old stock from when the engine was in production, or do they continue building them even though they have been superseded years ago? (Read More…)

By on October 18, 2019

2015 Volkswagen Beetle Classic, Image: Volkswagen Group of America

TTAC Commentator ErikStrawn writes:

Over the years I’ve tinkered with a bunch of different cars. Back in the day, you could put green ethylene glycol coolant in every car and it worked fine. If you had a car with the brand new DexCool, it was recommended to drain it and refill with the green stuff. Then some manufacturers went to the red stuff, and VW/Audi went to some other stuff that sludges up if mixed with the green stuff.

A couple years ago I bought an insurance auction VW Beetle TDI, and when I replaced the front end/radiator/etc., I flushed the engine out with water and switched the car to traditional green coolant.

My ’06 Mustang has 140K on it, and living in a constant state of having too many projects, I’ve neglected to change it until now. I’m of a mind to flush it out and run green coolant, but I know aluminum motors aren’t exactly tolerant of the green stuff.

I intend to transition my entire fleet to one coolant. What is a good one-size-fits-all coolant that is readily available? I’m in Oklahoma, and it freezes here, so running straight water is not an answer. Should I stick with the green stuff and replace it more religiously?

The Mustang is bone stock and ultra-reliable, so I don’t want to run coolant that has a propensity to turn acidic and erode the cooling passages. Is the red stuff any better? What is it called and can I find it at a truck stop at 3 a.m.? Does VW’s coolant have any advantage? (Read More…)

By on October 11, 2019

Image: Honda

(Yes, this is the third consecutive post about batteries, so please accept my apology and I promise next week will be a different subject. -SM) 

TTAC Commentator civicjohn writes:

Sajeev,

My daughter is at college 200 miles away from me. She called me on the way to work and said that she thought her battery was going dead, because she got the dreaded “clicking” noise while trying to start it. The battery was replaced about 3 years ago, and the alternator and starter were checked and found to be ok.

The car is a 2007 Honda Accord EX-L with 95k miles on it, all service done by the dealer, timing belt changed at 75k, all fluids, everything up to date (I always took it to the dealership; I know I overpaid, but it has a pristine service record).

So I’m about to order a battery from an auto parts store that will install it for no charge, I’m cool with that, but is there any advice on what type of battery I should get? I’ve picked one out, it has a 1-year replacement warranty. Should I spend more, or do I just plan on replacing the battery every 3 years or so?

The car is pristine, she learned how to drive in that car, and I hate to see her sign up for a new car loan when I’ve had friends that have got 150k + service out of these cars. Also, I’ve read about putting vaseline on the terminals, etc. Do any of these tricks extend the battery life? (Read More…)

By on October 4, 2019

TTAC regular Ronnie Schreiber writes:

Sajeev,

Tonight, while driving on the interstate, the tire pressure warning light came on in my ’15 Honda Fit, then the ESC light came on, then the power steering warning light came on, and then the info display said to check the charging system. Everything seemed to be working just fine, though. I pulled off to check the serpentine belt, which was intact so I started searching on the internet for the symptoms.

According to the forums, it’s sort of a known problem that’s due to glitches in the electrical system causing erroneous fault codes. Dealers usually try replacing the alternator, which doesn’t help. The alternator harness, the ABS sensors, and the injectors/coil packs have all been mentioned in the forums as fixing the problem.

I’ll check all the connections in the morning, but in the meantime I’m leaning towards a faulty ABS sensor, since those are used for the TPMS in my car, not an actual pressure transducer, and the first light that goes on is for tire pressure. Also, the check charging system warning was intermittent.

What do you think? (Read More…)

By on September 27, 2019

TTAC Commentator mr_mike59 writes:

Sajeev,

I’ve been following you and Sanjeev for many years on TTAC. Until now, I have mostly been interested in your advice and input related to other folks, and their sometimes obscure issues. At this time, however, I feel the need to reach out to look for some much needed advice.

My father-in-law is a Suburban man. Has been for over 35 years now. Unfortunately, the one he has at this point is suffering from some hard to track down electrical gremlins. He currently has a 2008 Suburban with the 5.3-liter and close to 150k on the odometer. For the past 3 winters, on their way to their snow birding location (an on the way home), they have been beset with charging issues that several shops have been unable to properly track down. The car will run fine for a good portion of the trip, with the only indication of a problem being a charging gauge that doesn’t sit still. However, when they are a good 6 or 8 hours into day one of their travels (pulling a 3,500 lb trailer), the voltmeter starts to sag, and all of the electrical systems start to shut down. This has caused them to either spend a fair amount of time on the side of the road, or cost into dealers up and down the east coast. (Read More…)

By on September 26, 2019

TTAC Ford Sierra Merkur XR4ti, Image: Sajeev MehtaDo enough tasks independently from each other and there’s enough content for a two-fer update on TTAC’s Ford Sierra.

So let’s get to it.

(Read More…)

By on September 20, 2019

vw

Mati writes:

Hello Sajeev!

Just finished reading your Piston Slap entry regarding the 2010 Audi A4, and I want to see what you think about my situation. Recently I relocated to the UK for work/travel and will be here for at least two years. I want to try something not available in the U.S. market and take advantage of the open roads here in the outskirts. I don’t live in a big town so no congestion/pollution tax to worry about.
My budget is £5,000 purchasing price, and my search for an euro hot hatch gave me only one Japanese branded product , some Fords, and a lot of interesting European models. But all around the 10 year mark give or take. In my situation would it be any better to go with an European 10-year-old hot-hatch then, say, a UK-Built Honda or a Ford?
A search on local classified and Bookface nets me a few nice results :
  • 2008 Honda Civic Coupe Type R
  • 2009 Ford Focus ST
  • 2007 RENAULTSPORT CLIO 197 F1 TEAM R27 LY 2.0
  • 2010 Citroen DS3
  • 2010 Peugeot RCZ
  • 2009 VW Scirocco
Looking forward to your reply! Cheers!

(Read More…)

By on September 13, 2019

Image: Audi AG

NW writes:

Hello there Sajeev, hope all is well with you. I have an issue with a 2010 Audi A4; my boyfriend bought this car from a dealership (used). However, he didn’t even have the car six months before realizing there was a piston ring problem — he would have to top up the oil when driving the car. We informed the dealership about it, but they gave us the run-around and did not fix the problem.

The car is financed so he’s still paying for it and has about $9,000 left. The car is completely dead at this point; we know about the cost to fix the car but we’re stuck on what to do with the car. Working to pay to fix the car is a lot within itself and we can’t sell it because we’re still paying for it.

We also contacted Audi but they didn’t help us, really. Any solution to this problem? (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2019

TJ writes:

My New Year’s resolution this year was to get my grandfather’s 1979 Chevy C10 running and driving again. It’s been parked in the garage since I drove it in there when my wife and I moved into our house in spring 2012. I stopped driving it because the transmission needed (another) rebuild and I didn’t have the time or money then. I’ve managed to get it running (full carb cleaning and new sending unit in the tank) and it will idle after some urging.

Now the next issue: I decided to check the brakes by jacking up first one end then the other and spinning the tires, then having someone step on the brakes (my 4 year old loved it). 3 out of 4 wheels spin, but the brakes don’t stop more spinning. The front passenger is stuck. I was able to get the rotor to turn some with a breaker bar. I could also hear some dragging in the rear passenger drum, but I was still able to turn it by hand. The pedal has some firmness, but not a lot and it doesn’t get hard after the engine is off (have to check the booster once I get the brakes working).

My first thought is to replace the front calipers and rotors (rotors probably need it anyway) and wheel bearings, since the rotors will be off. I’m not above rebuilding the rear drums also. Before I drop a bunch of money on parts, I thought I’d reach out for advice. (Read More…)

By on August 30, 2019

Sierra Lima 2.3 motor swap, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Most of this dialogue happened:

Brian: “My wife and kids are going on vacation somewhere I’d never go (Disney World) so that’s a good time to drive up to Dallas and work on the Sierra.”

Me: “Your family just had to pick the hottest week of the year to dump you on me, didn’t they?” 

Brian: “Shut up, Sanjeev! Get over here and work on your stupid brown car!”

(Read More…)

By on August 23, 2019

TTAC Commentator haroldhill writes:

Dear Sajeev,

My wife is driving (and loving) her 2009 MINI Cooper which has been a delight and remarkably trouble-free for 10 years. However, it recently developed a problem which has befuddled us and our highly reputable independent mechanic as well.

Under certain conditions the engine stumbles, feeling somewhat like an erratic misfire on one cylinder or fuel starvation; however, the stumbling vanishes when accelerator load is increased. The required conditions are: fully warmed up (10-15 minutes of driving), engine speed between 2700 and 3300 rpm, and light throttle appropriate to steady cruising. The stumbling will eventually bring on the “check engine” light and a P115C error code (Mass Air Flow).

If the engine is turned off for a few minutes (e.g. for a highway rest stop) the stumbling will disappear and won’t reappear until the car has been driven for another ten minutes, suggesting the fault is something remote enough from the engine that it can cool substantially in five minutes. After a few uneventful driving cycles, of course, the “check engine” light turns itself off. Thanks for nothing. On the other hand, this would be how I got it through emissions inspection…

Thus far the Mass Air Flow Meter has been replaced twice and the Throttle Body once. The latter seemed to help for awhile but I can’t be sure because it’s only recently that I’ve pinned down the exact conditions that will reliably bring this problem on. My wife, who does most of the driving, is a bit of a leadfoot and generally has much less trouble with this stumbling.

Our wonderful mechanic would appreciate any ideas or suggestions.

(Read More…)

By on August 16, 2019

TTAC Commentator Stefan writes:

Sajeev, my old triple-black 1997 Town Car has developed some air conditioning problems and my trusted independent shop seems unable to duplicate it nor to understand it. Maybe you and the B/B can help?

The a/c always works when starting up the car but will abruptly cut out after a while, almost as if the clutch disengaged. This happens even when the system is fully charged. I was told by the technician to keep the fan blowing full speed but this merely delays the inevitable cutting out. There does not seem to be a refrigerant leak. Not being an air conditioning expert by any means, I am at a loss on how to proceed.

The car has only 170,000 miles on the meter and should be good for another 100,000. Not wanting to spend big bucks on replacing the entire system, where to start? (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2019

Greg writes:

Good day Sajeev,

I recently signed a three-year lease on a Grand Cherokee Upland. The Upland is an appearance group that includes tow hooks, blacked-out trim and great big (20”) wheels wrapped in some fairly aggressive all-terrain tires (Goodyear Wrangler All Terrain Adventure). Boy, does FCA love “appearance groups.”

I live in the great white snow belt of Western New York where we get around 100 inches of snow per year. On my last two vehicles (Ram 1500 and Toyota 4Runner), I used winter tires for about 4 months of the year and was very happy with them.

I have the opportunity to purchase winter tires on steel wheels for this Jeep at a steep discount from a coworker. My question is, do I need them or should I rely on the A/T’s that are on the Jeep already? The stock tires are well-reviewed for winter use but I’ve heard horror story about low profile tires and big rims in the snow.

What’s your take? (Read More…)

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