Category: Piston Slap

By on January 24, 2020

TTAC Commentator Halftruth writes:

Hey Sajeev,

I’m trying to help my aunt out with her Mercury Sable, which has a 3.0-liter Duratec engine. It has an oil leak from the front passenger side which I believe is coming from the timing chain cover. How hard is this repair and what else should I look for if, say, the leak is not the cover or oil pan? I have checked the valve covers, oil press sender, and cam sensors — all dry. Read More >

By on January 17, 2020

Frank writes:

So, reading about the Lithium Mustang with its completely superfluous six-speed gearbox got me and some friends thinking about when you need a transmission and when you don’t.

We all know that steam engines and electric motors torque from the git-go and never need transmissions, whereas ICE engines can’t do that. But then we realized none of us knew why. So, that’s the question — why can’t ICE engines torque like those others? Read More >

By on January 10, 2020

1989 Taurus LX Wagon, Image: Ryan the OPRyan writes:

I have another question about my 1989 Taurus LX wagon, but I wanted to let you know that your diagnosis of my automatic climate control was dead accurate. (Well yeah, I’m awesome like that. – SM)

I didn’t think it was the AC compressor clutch because I used a hot wire to put power directly to the terminal on the compressor while the engine was off and I could see the clutch pull against the pulley. But after your response I tried something different — I pulled the AC clutch power wire out of the connector to the relay module and connected power to that wire while the engine was running. I could see the clutch pull against the pulley, but it was slipping. Read More >

By on January 3, 2020

2016 Honda Civic Sedan - Image: Honda

Letty writes:

My 2016 Honda Civic A/C compressor is not working. It is sadly not under warranty, but I heard that the compressor is a problem that Honda knows about but is not willing to recall. Will the compressor be recalled in the near future? Read More >

By on December 20, 2019

Toyota MR2 AW11, Image: Toyota Europe

Jeremy writes:

Hey Sajeev,

Long time reader, first time writer; I finally have an issue I can’t seem to figure out and was hoping you can help.

I have a supercharged 89 Toyota MR2 I bought a couple years ago but only really started driving a couple months ago, and while the car runs and drives about as well as any peak-era Toyota from time to time I would notice the revs would hang around 2,000 rpm when I came to a stop. I never really cared that much since I could stab the throttle once or twice and they would dip down to ~1,000.

However, I recently had a bunch of preventive and routine maintenance done, which has caused the rev hanging to become much more prevalent (I originally thought it was a stuck throttle cable, but the mechanic said it wasn’t; I also Seafoamed it before it went in the shop, but I don’t think that’s behind the rev hang worsening).

Now 2,000 rpm is the norm rather than the exception when I’m at a stoplight, with 3,000 rpm a not-uncommon occurrence, and when I stab the throttle the revs don’t really drop down anymore.

The mechanic said he couldn’t find a vacuum leak, but the car wouldn’t die when he shut the idle control valve completely; he also said something called a VTV was missing in the vacuum circuit. I have a feeling this is why the supercharger engaging feels like VTEC is kicking in, yo. The mechanic also said he couldn’t get the timing set dead perfect after my work.

The mechanic thinks the issue behind the rev hang is either in the missing VTV or perhaps something lurking in the air bypass valve, and I was hoping for a second opinion as well as ideas on where to look next.

Give all my best to Sanjeev,
-Jeremy

Read More >

By on December 13, 2019

1988 Lincoln Town Car Rear, Images: © 2017 Sajeev Mehta

Peter writes:

I got a case of Panther Love and bought a nice 89 Town car. It’s a lower mileage (62k) girl, one that has been taken care of. I DD it.

I have been busy fixing everything that breaks on it. Previous owners just didn’t use her much, and so a wide variety of stuff just goes out. Window regulators. Alternator, battery, alignment, tires…… the list goes in and on. Every week something happens. That’s ok, and I expected as much. The engine, body, interior and tranny all seem good-superb.

It has of course an automatic temp control HVAC system, and and already I have been chasing numerous gremlins. Started with needing a new heater control valve as the floor setting never worked for the heater. That was an easy fix. But now it seems she has vacuum leaks under the dash or in places my good mechanics can’t find under the hood. Leaks that cause the system to do weird stuff, like sending all the air to the defroster under acceleration, and or switching from Heat to ac and back just for a moment. They have run all sorts of vacuum tests under the hood and can’t find the problem.

My questions is this: I have very good vintage car mechanics, but they charge 140/hour and it adds up quickly. And they are not HVAC specialists. They will gladly troubleshoot if I let them. Pull the dash and start poking around. That’s the next step.

Is there not a better way? Does an Ford (or any manufacturer) Vintage HVAC mechanic exist somewhere, someone who already knows the system? Seems to me that the experience curve might be mighty handy here. Something like a Lincoln doctor who is board certified in HVAC. That would be too cool. I can dream, no?

Or should I just stick with the guys I have and hope for the best while paying the man. I live in the Washington DC metro area. I am obviously not capable of doing this myself.

Read More >

By on December 6, 2019

2018 Honda Accord Touring 2.0T - Image: Honda

TTAC regular David Holzman writes:

Sajeev,

My best friend has a 2019 Honda Accord with gas direct injection. Recently, Scotty Kilmer raised questions about the potential longevity — or rather potential lack thereof — of that engine.

I would expect Honda to have done a good job in designing that engine, but my friend is worried. Can you shed any additional light on this?

Read More >

By on November 29, 2019

2017 Subaru Outback - Image: Subaru

Citizen Kanine writes:

Is there a good (single?) place to search and discover what year car models updated their drivetrain or added some feature I might want?

I’m looking at a couple of used car options, probably recent cars coming off leases, and am wondering if model year 2016 or 2017 (for example) are significantly different for a Subaru Outback or a Mazda CX-5. All cars change a bit, every year but some stuff I care about (the Skyactiv suspension) and others (new paint colors or the move from 8 speakers to 10) not as much.

I know this information is not impossible to find, but the flood of info and changes for the most recent year can bury the details on models just a few years old. Or maybe I am just using weak GoogleFu. Read More >

By on November 22, 2019

TrueCar

TTAC Commentator ect writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I don’t know if this is strictly within your purview or not, but here goes. I am a dual citizen (U.S. and Canada) currently living in Canada. I will be retiring and moving back to the U.S. within the next (hopefully) few months. My current car (Mercedes B250) is 5 years old, is a model that isn’t/wasn’t sold in the U.S., and has exclusively metric instrumentation, so I plan to sell it in Canada and buy new in the U.S.

The last time I bought a new car in the U.S. was in 1995, and I gather that the world has changed since then. In particular, I understand there are internet-based resources that available to vehicle buyers that help arm them for the “dealer engagement” process. From reading TTAC, I also understand that one pioneer in this area (TrueCar) has gone over to the Dark Side. So, I’m left to wonder what sources I should be consulting for information on how to avoid getting totally shafted.

I also see that companies and groups like Costco and AARP have vehicle buying programs for their members, and wonder how useful these programs actually are.

I’d appreciate your thoughts on the subject, and of course any that the B&B have to offer. Read More >

By on November 15, 2019

TTAC Commentator MacMcMacmac writes:

Good day Sajeev,

I am contemplating doing something I never thought I would… buying a GM product. A used GM! I have recently negotiated the purchase of a home which will result in me commuting roughly 30 km to work, one-way. Now, that doesn’t seem like a whole lot, considering it will be mostly highway, but it is roughly 10 times as long as my current commute. My 2009 Focus is getting shabby, and although it has proven to be exceptionally reliable, age and road salt is taking its toll on the bodywork. So in light of this, I have decided it is time to find my next vehicle.

I was positively inclined toward the Cruze as soon as it came out. When I read its diesel made not a whole lot less torque than my old 5.0 LX, I was shocked. For me, the gutlessness of four-cylinder engines is something that truly destroys the enjoyability of any vehicle afflicted with one. I guess that old 302 loping down the road spoiled me for effortless engine response, despite it being nothing special nowadays in terms of output.

I am thinking this 2.0 turbo oil burner might provide the best of both worlds at a reasonable buy-in. Do you or anyone on the board have any experience with the Cruze Diesel in terms or reliability, durability and general liveability? This would break my streak of buying five Ford products in a row. The Cruze Diesel in question is a 2014 with 80K, no rust, leather, yadda-yadda….The diesel engine premium seems to have been eaten by the first owner, as the price seems in line with gas Cruzes of the same age.

Has this engine/transmission proven reliable over the long haul?

Read More >

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 >

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