Category: Piston Slap

By on April 19, 2019
NB Miata Engine, Image: forum.miata.netTTAC Commentator Majda writes: 

Sajeev,

I recently bought a 2002 Miata, manual transmission, in silver. The prior owners appear to have been followers of the sans souci school of maintenance, so I have been wrenching on it quite a bit. It has only one problem I can’t solve: a persistent P0301 code, showing a misfire in Cylinder 1. The actual experience of driving the car is fine — I don’t feel a miss or a drop in power. That light, though… it isn’t constant. It doesn’t come on instantly; if I clear it, I might get a few minutes of light-free driving, or an hour, or a day. But after that, the CEL goes blinky-blinky.

Logic suggests that the misfire can only come from spark, air, or fuel, so I went at each as follows:

  • Spark: I’ve replaced the spark plugs (NGKs), plug wires (ditto) and boots. I swapped ignition coils to see if the code would move; it didn’t. The ignition wiring harness has some broken protective tape, but I don’t see any broken wiring.
  • Air: I’ve replaced the air filter and checked for vacuum leaks.
  • Fuel: I replaced the fuel filter, and, to make sure I didn’t have a fuel injector problem, I swapped the injectors between cylinder 1 and cylinder 4. I spilled a bunch of fuel, but the code stayed put.

I’ve been busy fixing other issues (leaking valve cover gasket, cracked radiator, soft top made of cheesecloth) on this Miata, but the P0301 has me stumped. I checked compression, and it’s good across all four cylinders. Forums mostly argue in favor of ignition problems, but I feel like I’ve covered that area.

The big question is this: Do you think new driving shoes will fix the problem?

Read More >

By on April 12, 2019

Hyundai passenger occupant detection system (pods), Image: HyundaiDavid writes:

Sajeev,

Almost every rental car I’ve driven, regardless of make or model, in the last 18 to 24 months, particularly in the Bay Area and especially if the car has 20,000 or more miles, has the passenger detection system for turning the airbag on/off broken. Ford, GM, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, it doesn’t matter. Sedan, SUV, sports car, again it doesn’t matter.

The first time it happened was in a Malibu. I’m driving with an alarm going off and I keep scanning the dashboard for a message or idiot light. Pulled over and checked the doors were all closed and trunk closed. Then I noticed the blinking light for the passenger seat seatbelt not being buckled and that a passenger is detected in the front seat. Nothing was in the seat, not even a piece of paper. After I secured the seatbelt for the invisible passenger the alarm stopped. I had to drive the car that way for the rest of my trip.

This has repeated itself in almost every rental I’ve had since. The most recent frustration was a 2017 Kia Optima I just had, which again required me to drive around with the passenger seatbelt buckled for the invisible passenger.

Does this mean that my personal vehicles will eventually befall the same fate? Is there something that rental car drivers are doing that abuse this system? Does California have a different standard? What gives? Read More >

By on April 5, 2019

2016 mazda miata cutaway top , Image: MazdaMark writes:

In my 2016 Miata, the electric power assist for the steering has died but the fuse for it is fine. It was working fine when it was towed to a dealership to have the manual transmission rebuilt and it was dead when I picked it up. Any ideas? Read More >

By on March 29, 2019

1988 Mercury Cougar Window Run Channel, Image: Sajeev MehtaTony writes:

Sajeev,

This automotive design element has perplexed me for years. What is the small, usually black bump or protrusion on the front window glass run channel of certain cars? The 2010 Nissan Versa has the most obvious one that I have seen recently. Thanks!
Read More >

By on March 22, 2019

GM Gasket Maker, Image: performancetrucks.netTTAC commentator slavuta writes:

Something came into my head related to break-in period and time of purchase of the car. These days, modern engines often don’t have actual gaskets; the gaskets are formed from a chemical compound spread on one surface and pressed-on with another.

As everything liquid becomes hard or nearly hard, it requires a curing period. From the time an engine is assembled to that time when it starts seeing real usage could pass months or even a year+. Of course, the engine sees some usage from testing and from the car being moved around during shipment.

But let’s say you buy this car in the middle of a harsh winter. We know that materials shrink and expand as temperatures goes down and up. Do you think buying a car during summer gives more curing and settling time to these gaskets vs buying in the winter, especially in the areas where winters are really cold? Yes, engine becomes hot during operation but many materials seem to get more elastic with heat and more hard and fragile with cold. Ever tried to leave even an empty garden hose outside in the cold? Your thoughts – are there any break-in advantages from buying in the summer? Read More >

By on March 15, 2019

2019 Buick Enclave Roof Rack, Image: Buick Steve writes:

Hello Sajeev,

I am a family man and typically have a family hauler in the stable — minivan, three-row crossover, and what-have-you. I always get the manufacturer’s trailer hitch and roof rack/crossbars.

So, I like the size of the new Traverse/Enclave, but have you seen the ridiculous crossbars? See photo above.

They must be 8 inches or more off the top of the car. I usually like the look of the roof rack on larger vehicles, but hate the new setup. I know, I could get aftermarket accessories, and probably would. I Googled around for a reason why they are so high off the top of the car but found nothing. My working theory is that by holding a cargo carrier, or other items on the roof high enough, the airflow from the windshield can pass underneath the cargo unobstructed, resulting in a smoother, more perfect, more aerodynamic vehicle-cargo union rather than running into an air-dam of cargo, effectively forcing airflow around the obstruction.

In any event, thought it was an interesting unanswered question and if we will start seeing this as the norm on new vehicles. Maybe it’s just me, but it looks pretty goofy to my eye. It also looks more dramatic in person, if you have seen them riding around.

Read More >

By on March 8, 2019

1989 Lincoln Continental - iPad, Image: Sajeev MehtaTed writes:

In your suggested fixes to a 200,000-mile BMW, you mentioned better aftermarket radios. That got me interested! I’m buying a 1989 Porsche 944 turbo with about 10 problems and the radio ain’t one. (The price? 6,500 Canuckian pesos!)

As I fix it up for my own long-term use, however, I want to understand the options and the pros and cons of replacing the “meh” Kenwood unit that one of the nine (!) previous owners put in there.

Can you do a kind of buyer’s guide for aftermarket radios with Bluetooth capabilities and/or smartphone integration? Currently I use Waze on my phone, which is clipped to the air vents with a small Kenu phone mount, and an aux cable. It works fine; I’d like to have fewer cables and better power to the phone, but this is a frivolous and fun upgrade for me. Maybe a low-cost option and an “all the features” option would be two options for most. Read More >

By on March 1, 2019

1979 Dodge Truck Brochure, Image: ChryslerTTAC Commentator Nate writes:

I’m working on a 1979 Dodge D200 with 360CID V8 4BBL carbureted engine, automatic trans, A.I.R. pump, EGR valve, and charcoal canister for the fuel tank hydrocarbons. The underhood factory decal says “California Medium Duty Emissions” and it has no catalytic converter from new. So here’s my situation:

  • All hoses, pipes etc. are there and all valves etc. are working .
  • The A.I.R. pump works but the diverter valve has failed (vacuum diaphragm leaks) and is in the open position so it’s always blowing fresh air into the exhaust manifolds.

Is it likely to pass the emissions test like this? I took my Ca. smog tester license training in 1984 and honestly only remember bits and pieces. So far I’ve not been able to find a new or good used diverter valve. Please advise!

Read More >

By on February 22, 2019

Image: hyundaiLuke writes:

I have an ’09 Hyundai Santa Fe, 3.3L, with 117,000 km (73,000 miles). It’s losing oil from a leaking timing chain cover gasket at a rate of one litre per 1,400 km or so. The repair is estimated to be around $1,500. We have this vehicle because we have three young children (ages 4, 2, and 6 months) and the Santa Fe is one of the few that fit three car seats across one row safely and easily, and was within our budget.

I’ve only owned the vehicle for a year. What do you think I should do? Pay for the repair, just keep adding oil, or look for a different vehicle?  Read More >

By on February 15, 2019

1990 Lexus LS400 Red Cloth Interior, Image: http://classicvehicleslist.comTTAC Commentator NoChryslers writes:

Enjoy the website very much… so here are some questions.

  1. Why are interior and exterior color choices so limited right now? You have to pay extra for anything special. (Even then, good luck getting the carpet to match the drapes — SM) Seems to have started in the ’90s and we’ve been grayscale ever since!
  2. What happened to all of the convertibles?
  3. How do we stop the SUV/crossover tsunami?

Read More >

By on February 8, 2019

2013 Scion FRS navy winter - Image: © Timothy CainV writes:

Here are two questions from a regular, and grateful, Piston Slap reader:

  1. How long is best to idle a gasoline engine after starting & before driving off: [A] a few minutes? [B] one minute? [C] until the revs settle down? [D] no need, just drive right off? Assume ambient temperature well above freezing; a shifting style on the sedate side; and a car made in the past 15 years so engine has EFI and EGR and all that. Current ride’s engine is naturally-aspirated and direct-injected, but I sure would appreciate knowing the proper protocol for other combinations too, if different. Several sources over the past years have all agreed on [D] for modern engines, but then just a few months back a Car & Driver column said [A], so now I’m unsure again.
  2. Leaving a car (stick shift *of course*) parked: best in gear, best in neutral, or doesn’t matter? Assume the parking space is either not sloped at all, or is sloped and I know enough to turn a front wheel into the curb toward the down slope. Read More >
By on February 1, 2019

1988 Honda Accord, Image: OP/Grassroots MotorsportsBrian writes:

Sajeev,

This is a weird one, but I figured you would enjoy it. I have owned an ’88 Accord LX-i five speed hatch for a while. One day, driving along, I noticed that it seemed to be coasting easier than normal. When I approached a red light, I found out why: 3,000 rpm was my new idle speed. I stopped, and before I could even think of why this was happening, the idle returned to normal. Once underway, 3,000 rpm was again the new idle speed. Subsequently, I tried many things. This is not related to the brakes, not related to the throttle input, not related to absolutely anything other then wheel speed. In the most stark example, idling on a slight incline, I can just release the parking brake and, once rolling, the idle jumps to 3,000 rpm. Using only the parking brake to stop once again, the idle returns to normal. No CELs or anything else strange happens during this.

I found that it would idle normally if I disconnected the IACV. This worked fine, but when using the A/C it can no longer compensate, so that was not ideal. I also could make it work if I disconnected the speedometer cable, so I did that for a while before really missing my speedometer and cruise control. I tried another way, which was to disconnect the electrical connections between the speedometer and the rest of the gauge cluster. This works, but I get no cruise control, and a CEL only if I coast with no throttle input for too long, which is strange.

I have tried bleeding the IACV, replacing the IACV, replacing and adjusting the throttle position sensor, replacing the entire gauge cluster (which had the same issue, but seemed to change the high idle RPM weirdly enough, but still wonky-high).  Also, I did check all grounds and the solder joints in the ECU.

Here is my long standing build/upkeep thread, and here is a terrible video.

Read More >

By on January 25, 2019

2017 Honda CR-V Touring Rear 3/4, Image: © 2017 Timothy CainRyan writes:

Esteemed Mr. Mehta, what tires should you use when going from cold to hot weather? Imagine you were driving from Canada to Arizona in March.

Earlier this year, my parents drove their shiny new 2018 CR-V AWD to Phoenix in order to attend the Vintage Stunt Championships. The event happens in March, a perfectly temperate, even zesty, time of the year in Arizona. (Daytime high in Phoenix last March was 33C). Unfortunately, we all live in Canada. The trip went across the Rockies, and they definitely encountered nightmarish winter conditions. We’re talking near-whiteout, slippery roads, Subarus in the ditches.

Even for Canadians, a bit much! Read More >

By on January 18, 2019

1992 Mercury Sable Heckblende, Image: FordLongtime TTAC Commentator Golden2husky writes:

Dear Sajeev:

I have a problem with my old ’92 Sable. About a year ago the ABS started to lightly engage while the wheel was turned hard left or right as you pulled into a parking spot. The parking was not at “turtle” speeds but was well below the need to engage ABS. This issue began to get worse after a few months; the unwanted ABS engagement would occur with less of a steering wheel angle. No longer did you need the wheel fully turned to cause the problem.

For the last two months the car sat unused, but now with the potential for snow and the need to haul building materials on the roof rack I’ve begun using the car again. Now, with the wheel pointed straight, the car will occasionally engage the ABS when stopping at a red light. Usually the engagement is light, but a few times it was pretty severe. I’m concerned about rear-ending somebody. I do not consider disengaging the ABS to be an answer. The ABS idiot light comes on at startup and extinguishes after a few seconds.

You have a lot of experience with old Fords so perhaps this has happened to you. The car is nearing 200K and has spent its entire life outside. Salt use in these parts is pretty moderate. Tires and struts are fairly recent and are in excellent condition. Read More >

By on January 11, 2019

Dirty Harry, Image: http://ultimateactionmovies.comNaseem writes:

Sajeev,

I read TTAC every day but have never commented. I’m not as witty as most of your readers. (Don’t sell yourself short! – SM)

Here’s my problem: I have my head screwed on too tight. I have always loved cars and am always shopping for my next car, but I rarely pull the trigger. My wife has a ‘12 Sienna with 40K miles that serves our family (three young kids) well. I drive an ‘04 MDX with 171K miles and I honestly love it. I really want a new car, maybe another MDX, maybe an F-150, but my MDX keeps going and going with little more than routine maintenance. I’m 41, have a good job, am on track for solid retirement savings, college savings and could afford whatever I want but I’m too financially responsible. Why buy a new car if the one I have is just fine — I should just continue to save, right?

So, I need a reason to be irresponsible and buy a new(er) car. Should I get rid of the MDX before it requires a major repair? What other reasons do you have to justify buying a newer vehicle? Read More >

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