Category: Editorials

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.

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By on August 22, 2019

The year is 1990, and you live in Utah or someplace similar and find yourself with plentiful offspring. The only solution here is a full-size van that seats 15. Which extra-long BOF box goes home with the Buy?

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By on August 21, 2019

This week, General Motors CEO Mary Barra and Ford CEO Jim Hackett were among 181 corporate executives claiming their companies need to do more than just deliver value to shareholders. If you just blacked out, we’ll reiterate — chief executives around the country are suggesting businesses need to do more than pad their share price.

We’re wondering why the sudden change of heart.  Read More >

By on August 21, 2019

Between 1953 and a few weeks ago, the Chevrolet Corvette stuck to a very specific formula: Engine at the front, driven wheels at the back. With the debut of the 2020 C8 Corvette, all of that changed. Today we want to find out what you think about the metamorphosis of an iconic sports car nameplate.

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By on August 21, 2019

You knew this Ace of Base would happen eventually. Ever since the dawn of time (or the moment Don Sherman started working at Car and Driver, whichever came first), speculation had been rife of an impending mid-engined Corvette. The shoe finally dropped last month, with the debut of Chevy’s eighth-gen Vette.

One huge detail? Its starting price of $59,995. For less than sixty grand, one will soon be able to plug themselves into the driver’s seat of America’s hot rod. What’s included (and not included?) in the base 1LT?

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By on August 20, 2019

Rare Rides has featured Alfa Romeos from the Seventies (including this car’s sibling) and the Nineties, but never any from that most powdery of decades: the Eighties. That changes today, with an angular and excellently preserved GTV6.

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By on August 20, 2019

best blind spot mirrors

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: check yer bind spot! More than a few collisions (notice we didn’t call them “accidents”) occur because drivers heedlessly heave their car over into the next lane only to find themselves occupying the same time and space as another vehicle. This leads to Expensive Noises.

Plenty of machines on the road today are equipped with blind-spot monitoring systems, most of which use a system that detects when another vehicle is in one’s blind spot and flashes an amber light, usually on the face of the car’s sideview mirror. One of the best alert systems is employed by Audi, which places a big amber light on the inside of the mirror housing instead of on the mirror itself. That light then fades in and out like an Iowa radio station rather than winking abruptly like a horny teenager.

Still, there are plenty of cars which don’t have this tech — and more than a few rolling around in which it was not available when they were built — so we assembled eight options found on Amazon.

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By on August 19, 2019

vision 2.0 NHTSA Autonomous vehicles

Over the past year the automotive industry has carefully walked back the expectations surrounding autonomous cars. Yet pretty much any change in rhetoric constitutes retracted goals. With numerous companies predicting self-driving fleets of commercial vehicles before 2021, the bar couldn’t have been set much higher.

A lack of progress is partly to blame. However, a bundle of high-profile accidents have also shaken public trust — especially after it was found that Uber whistleblower Robbie Miller was trying to alert the company to issues with its self-driving program just days before one of the company’s autonomous Volvos was involved in a fatal accident with a pedestrian.

That’s not the half of it. In April, Miller released a study claiming self-driving vehicles were actually recording incident rates higher than that of your typical motorist. Contrasting data from the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) and the California DMV, he concluded that autonomous test vehicles created more injuries per mile than the average human motorist with a few years of practice.  Read More >

By on August 19, 2019

2018 Subaru Crosstrek: Image: Subaru

Spend a few minutes talking to a normal, regular person, and they’ll probably reveal very little knowledge of a vehicle’s mechanics or specs while boasting plenty of knowledge of a brand’s (or vehicle’s) marketing efforts and media coverage.

The general consensus, at least according to your author’s mother, is that dogs help sell cars. Full stop. At the very least, they sprinkle a helping of feel-good fairy dust over a brand, leaving a positive impression of the company in the minds of viewers. Audience manipulation is the sole purpose of advertising.

As Subaru walks away from its most recent sales month with yet another healthy volume increase, however, one model seems to have run out of momentum. It remains to be seen if a heaping helping of dogs can turn it around. Read More >

By on August 19, 2019

Our last couple of Buy/Drive/Burn posts covered two different flavors of compact Japanese SUVs from the 1990s. Today we branch out and review larger, luxury-oriented SUVs hailing from places other than Japan.

Twelve miles per gallon? That’s plenty.

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By on August 19, 2019

2006 Isuzu I-280 in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSome guys dream of finding a Blower Bentley or Hemi Super Bee in a dusty barn. I get excited when I find an obscure example of badge engineering in a big self-service junkyard.

No Suzuki Equatoryet— but here’s something just about as rare: the Isuzu-badged version of the Chevrolet Colorado, found close to Pikes Peak in Colorado. Read More >

By on August 16, 2019

best racing simulator cockpits

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


It’s a fantasy harbored by every single gearhead on the planet: the ability to jump aboard any supercar or race machine in the world and rip off a lap of their favorite racetrack. The likes of Forza, Gran Turismo, and iRacing now affords us that opportunity, albeit digitally. Still, you’re left with steering your way around Eau Rouge with a joystick or d-pad and mashing the throttle of a McLaren Senna with your right index finger.

The advent of sim steering wheel and pedal kits solved that problem and the units shown here take that a step further. You’ll need a healthy amount of footprint space dedicated to one of these racing sim cockpits, so expect to be banished to the garage or basement with it once the novelty has worn off for the rest of the family.

Presented here are seven of the best we could find on Amazon. Note that some units being hawked online don’t come with a seat, so read the fine print carefully. All of the ones listed here do have a chair as of this writing.

Your author also wondered how long it would take writing these posts for him to unholster his Visa debit card and buy one of the units on which he is writing. The UPS truck arrives next Thursday.

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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 15, 2019

Today’s Rare Ride follows a trio of recent Citroën entries in this series. But unlike the other chevaux in the stable, this one’s an illegal alien.

It’s the Xsara Picasso from 2003.

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By on August 14, 2019

It’s August 2019 and your author is pouring one out for little Blue Oval hatchbacks with mouths to match their trousers. Soon to depart from our shores (North American-market production has already ceased), the Focus and Fiesta represented bite-sized bits of fun that weren’t overly expensive and looked a bit derivative. Alas. At least we still have Honda, and it must be noted that Hyundai is stepping up its game in this segment.

For now, one can configure a 2019 Fiesta ST even if it is getting difficult to find them on dealer lots. Today’s post assumes the ST trim is a base car, insofar as we will be adding $0 in options to the sticker price.

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