Maintenance/Repair

QOTD: What Have Your Maintenance Costs Been Like?

Today our podcast went deep on which brands are the cheapest and costliest to maintain.

Now I am curious what your experiences have been.

Read more
These Car Brands Will Be Expensive to Maintain

Hey hey, whaddaya say? Today is podcast day!

Read more
QOTD: How Have Car Maintenance Costs Been For You?

Yesterday we reported on a Consumer Reports story listing the most expensive and least expensive car brands in terms of maintenance.

Read more
Consumer Reports Lists Least/Most Expensive Car Brands to Maintain

With the average vehicle now older than ever before and fewer people capable of spending the kind of money required to purchase a brand-new automobile, maintenance has become even more relevant. To that end, Consumer Reports has furnished an analysis on just how much each nameplate is likely to set you back in terms of upkeep over its lifespan.

Read more
QOTD: Is Professional Detailing Worth It?

You wouldn't know it by the weather, at least in parts of the country, but it is springtime according to the calendar.

Snow tires are coming off. So are car covers. And soon, the nation's detailers will be setting to work getting people's rides summer ready.

The question is -- is it worth it to pay for professional detailing?

Read more
QOTD: Where Do You Change Your Oil?

We, along with Quaker State, gave away some oil this month.

That got me thinking about something -- not what oil you use (that might be a future QOTD), but where you get it changed.

Read more
Robotic Tire Changing Business Goes Bust

A Detroit-based startup hoping to normalize robotic tire changes has filed for bankruptcy, perhaps offering hope to all the humans worried that they're about to be displaced by automation. RoboTire, which launched in 2019, had stated its intention to speed up vehicle maintenance for auto repair shops, fleet operators and dealerships. Now its status is Chapter 7.

Read more
Massachusetts' Right to Repair Law Finally Gets Go-Ahead From Feds

Right to repair is a contentious issue for all consumer products, especially smartphones and cars. Massachusetts voters approved a measure that would require automakers to open access to their over-the-air processes and data in 2020, but the feds only recently gave the okay for it to proceed after the NHTSA pumped the brakes. 

Read more
Study: Vehicle Owners Are Becoming Less Satisfied With Independent Repair Shops

If you’ve taken a car to the dealer for repairs, you’re probably aware that costs can add up fast. Independent shops are a great way to save money on car repairs, but a new J.D. Power study found that owners are less satisfied with aftermarket service providers than in years past. 

Read more
Video of the Week: "The Car Sounds Like..."

This one spoke to my past, brief life as a service writer. For those who don't know, service writers often use the term "customer states" followed by the customer's description of the problem.

Like so: "Customer states there is a creaking noise when turning left at under 15 mph."

Read more
Cary's Garage: Smart Car Struggles

Hey Cary,

I have a 2009 Smart car that seems to be having some issues and I was wondering if you might have some advice on what I should do. I went to drive it recently and the transmission seems to not shift or do anything at all. I put it in drive and the engine just revs, if I restart it a couple of times sometimes it will go into gear and move. What should I do?

Thanks, Phil.

Read more
Cary's Garage: Through Thick and Thin

I had a friend ask me recently about my experience with older air-cooled vehicles and what my feeling about the right oil weight to run was. Well, I have driven air-cooled vehicles for many years and many thousands of miles and have experimented with oil to see what had the best results.

Read more
Cary's Garage: Citroen Hydraulic Blues

Cary,

Here is kind of an odd one for you. I have a ‘71 Citroen D series car and it seems there is an issue finding the Hydraulic Mineral fluid for the system. Do you have any ideas or suggestions for me?

Thanks,

Mark

Read more
NY Right-to-Repair Law Exempts Automakers

Governor Kathy Hochul has signed a right-to-repair bill into law for New York after it lingered within the state legislature for the better part of a year. However, many advocating for legal protections allowing consumers to fix and modify products have started criticizing changes made to the rule on behalf of large business entities hoping to see it neutered. While much of this pertains to the tech lobby representing companies like Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google, sizable exemptions have been similarly carved out for automakers. 

Read more
Cary's Garage: Bringing an Engine Back From the Dead

Cary,

I was wondering if you had any good tips and tricks for bringing an old car back to life that’s been sitting for a long time. I’ve read and heard different things, but I want your advice on what you have ever done.

Thanks,

Tom

Read more
Cary's Garage: Oil Striction

Recently I was talking to several people I know about maintenance and care for a couple of Powerstroke Diesel engines and was surprised that neither had heard of oil stiction and the effects it causes.

Read more
Housekeeping: Tech Column Returns Next Week

You may have noticed our new tech column was missing last week and hasn't been posted yet today. Our writer was out sick.

Read more
Automakers Claim They Can’t Comply With Right-to-Repair Laws

The State of Massachusetts' Right-to-Repair law was passed in 2012, laying the foundation for the rest of the United States to begin securing consumer protections that would allow them to work on the products they own. General Motors and Stellantis are now claiming they cannot possibly adhere to the rules and have done nothing to prepare for complying with the law.

Read more
Best Oil Filters: Engine Protections

There are some things best enjoyed without filters – Instagram photos, discussions about pay with your boss, and those Camel cigarettes from the ’80s. What definitely does require a filter is the oiling system on your car’s engine. We’ve gathered a few of them here.

Read more
Ford and Stellantis Recall Bigger Vehicles for Smaller Problems

Ford and Stellantis are issuing recalls on some of their biggest models — figuratively and literally — this week. But the issues are quite a bit less dire than the repeat fire risks you’ve probably grown accustomed to. These defects will still allow customers to park their vehicle indoors without fear of awakening to a raging inferno emanating from the garage. Owners could probably even get away without having their cars fixed by the manufacturer until the relevant parts actually started breaking. Though why anybody would turn down free repairs on any component that didn’t pass muster is beyond me.

Impacted vehicles include 2021-22 model year Dodge Durango SUVs, 2019-22 MY Ram 2500 pickups, and 2019-22 MY Ram 3500 Chassis Cab trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) under 10,000 pounds, all with bunk electronic stability control (ESC) warning lights. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 375,000 vehicles should be affected. Meanwhile, Ford is only looking at 175,000 units of the 2021 F-150 pickup with bum wiper motors.

Read more
Report: Every New VW Golf Has Been Recalled in Germany

Volkswagen cannot seem to get away from software issues on its newer vehicles. This problem botched the launch of numerous models, including the Mk8 Golf, and seems to have returned now that every single example of the car is being recalled in Europe.

Drivers have been reporting gauge clusters displaying incorrect data, infotainment systems going offline, keys failing, and advanced driving aids that are perpetually on the fritz. The latter issue has also resulted in Golfs engaging in some erratic behavior, like erroneously triggering their own forward collision-warning sensors. This has left more than a few drivers complaining about cars stopping randomly in traffic as the automatic emergency braking system came alive.

Read more
Honda Recalling 789,000 Vehicles Over Busted Hood Latch

Honda is recalling nearly 789,000 vehicles over a defect that could cause the hood to fly up while driving. While anyone wanting to reenact their favorite scene from 1995’s Tommy Boy is going to be thrilled, those less eager to follow Chris Farley into an early grave will probably want to get their car repaired ahead of any hilarious mishaps.

A report filed by the manufacturer with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) listed the affected models. They include the 2019 Honda Passport, 2016-2019 Honda Pilot, and 2017-2020 Honda Ridgeline. This impacts 788,931 vehicles globally, with the vast majority (725,000) being located in the United States.

Read more
Right-to-Repair Movement Gets Federal Attention

While the right-to-repair movement is fighting a national battle, the brunt of the action has been taking place on America’s coasts. Consumer activists are taking on multinational corporations that don’t want you to modify your mobile devices, affix aftermarket components to your vehicle, or have complete access to the data that’s amassed by the staggering number of products that are needlessly networked to the internet. After years of petitioning the government, often while arguing with high-paid lobbyists, the group achieved a major victory in Massachusetts in 2020. Voters decided that automakers should not be allowed to withhold information from the vehicle’s owner or use it as a way to prohibit them from taking their car into independent repair shops (rather than manufacturer-certified service centers) or tinkering with it themselves.

Now the federal government is getting involved. Joe Biden has signed an executive order that effectively forces the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take regulatory action that would settle the matter. But we don’t really know if that’s going to lead to a market where customers are free to treat their property (and private data) as they wish, one where the manufacturer holds all the cards, or simply result in a regulatory minefield displeasing all parties.

Read more
Automotive Alliance Manages to Delay Revised Massachusetts Right to Repair Law

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) has managed to stall enforcement of a ballot measure recently passed in Massachusetts that expands access to data related to vehicle maintenance and repair. Last week, the relatively new lobbying/trade group asked a U.S. district court for a temporary order that would bar implementation of the state’s new right-to-repair rules aimed at giving vehicle owners more direct control of their private data and independent repair shops a fighting chance of staying in business. But the state’s attorney general has already decided that the rules are invalid until after federal cases have been decided.

The decision represents another victory for giant, multinational corporations at the expense of disgusting citizens interested in controlling their personal information and small business owners who have had it easy for far too long.

Read more
Rivian Explains Vehicle Servicing Program

Over the last few months, the automotive industry has been feeding the media a steady stream of materials about how great electric vehicles are. Your author even spent an hour last week on a press call where a famous German automaker attempted to educate us on how to use the cost of ownership over 10 years to help readers rationalize buying them over something requiring gasoline. While that should stay something about how the industry sees our relationship, it also seems to indicate it’s preparing an EV offensive in North America or has next to nothing up its sleeve for the remainder of 2020.

Of course, these are the legacy manufacturers we’re discussing, EV startups walk a slightly different path. Awash with more investment funding that seems reasonable, they’re in the midst of setting up factories so they can begin production of largely hypothetical products. There are also logistical questions that need handling, including figuring out who will be fixing EVs when nobody seems interesting selling them using the dealership model.

Over the weekend, Rivian explained how it planned on handling repairs. Though, if you thought it would be more complicated than copying a page from the Tesla playbook, you’re going to be disappointed.

Read more
Massachusetts Passes Right-To-Repair Protections

Independent repair shops and aftermarket parts retailers have been pitted against major automakers and their dealer networks in Massachusetts for years. The state has served as the primary battleground for right-to-repair legislation that would permit/prohibit customers and independent entities from working on or modifying vehicles. However, a major victory came on Tuesday after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure updating existing right-to-repair laws to give vehicle owners and small shops better access to vehicle data typically reserved for industry giants.

The resulting decision gives consumers substantially more control over what’s done with the data being harvested by the industry (often without their knowledge) and frees up their options on who to go to when their vehicle needs fixing.

Read more
Gen Xers, Millennials Struggle to Find Trusted Mechanics

Everyone knows a friend or, more frequently, a friend’s middle-aged dad who has “a guy.”

The guy in question doesn’t necessarily need to be male and the friend only needs to know them tangentially. They just have to be some kind of professional or tradesman that they trust implicitly with a single important aspect of their life. For automotive enthusiasts, the guy is a mechanic and usually has a whole shop backing him up. Unfortunately, “the guy” has remained elusive for younger generations.

Read more
Five Simple Technologies For The Long Haul

Just Imagine What I Can Do To Your Car!

Everybody wants a deal. But precious few people are willing to change their habits to make their deal last longer.

Read more
Product Review: Harbor Freight Hydraulic Scissor Lift

Having lead a life of high adventure in my youth, scaling pinnacles of rocks and ice, I never imagined that I’d meet my end, flat on my back crushed beneath a falling car. I was setting a new land-speed record for butt-shoulder-shuffling on my way out from under the creaking, swaying mass of 1999 Volkswagen New Beetle-shaped steel groaning menacingly above my body. Moments before the VW started moving it was resting firmly on my tried, and until-that-moment trusted ramps and jack-stands. But now I was going to die, life flashing before my eyes, staring swaying death in the face as my wife’s “cute bug” transformed into Damocles’ Sword, or Poe’s Pendulum, my garage floor playing the Pit. The tremor ceased as my head cleared the oil pan, and the Beetle slowed, then stopped making the horrific creaking noises as the jack-stands stopped wobbling. I cleared the bumper and leapt to my feet in a single motion, and relief swept over me like the expected post-quake tidal wave should. “Damn, I’m still alive!… in fact… I’m completely unharmed!” Running into the house I yelled at the family: ‘Did you guys feel that?!” … only to be met with a non-chalant: “feel what?”

In retrospect the tremor which scared me out from under the car was only a barely-rattle-the-china 3.2 on the Richter Scale, but it drove home an indelible lesson to this DIY mechanic living in a region where three tectonic plates meet: I NEED to get a lift!

Read more
Product Review: Optima Batteries

Perhaps you’ve seen the advertisement: an Optima battery survives the rigors of a demolition derby, then goes into the vehicle taking it’s owner home. But is it pure advertising hyperbole or is there something to the claim? To find out I tested the Optima Red Top and Yellow top batteries in situations ranging from daily-driving to that demolition derby-in-denial, the 24 Hours of LeMons.

Read more
"I'm Gonna Get You Sucka!" Product Review: Mityvac 7201 Fluid Evacuator Plus

I’m not a very good mechanic, but I enjoy working on my cars. Part of it is because I’m cheap and don’t like spending money on things I can do myself. Additionally, every time I have any interaction with any part of a car dealership I walk away feeling like a rape victim. Silkwood showers. Haunting regret. The works. Determined to rid myself of that feeling of being used, I made a commitment to gain mechanical skills and free myself from abuse.

Read more
Sears DieHard 10/2/50 Amp Automatic Battery Charger Review
TTAC review the Sears DieHard 10/2/50 amp Automatic Battery Charger
Read more
Poorboy's Spray & Rinse Wheel Cleaner Review
Poorboy's Spray & Rinse Wheel Cleaner gets a thumbs-up from TTAC's product reviewer.
Read more
OBD-II Actron 9135 Scanner Review
Review of scanner for automotive idiot lights.
Read more
  • Chiefmonkey Bet on it getting 5-10 MPG less than the advertised rating.
  • FreedMike Maybe they will be the Alpine distributors.
  • TheEndlessEnigma The Mitsubishi hate and snark in many of these comments is expected. I really do need to challenge anyone here who bristles at the mention of Mitsu and immediately begins a Tourette's inspired flow of vitriol. Before you rant on about how bad Mitsu's are, get into one and drive it. Surprise surprise, they are good vehicles, it's just kewl and hip to be a lemming and blindly follow the "Mitsubishi Sucks Because Doug DeMuro Told Me So" crowd.
  • EBFlex Remember when they introduced legislation to take natural gas stoves away? Now they want to charge electric trucks with it? If liberals didn’t have double standards they wouldn’t have any at all.
  • Glennbk First, Cadillac no longer has brand cache. And as such, the prices need to drop. Second, reliability. Cadillac doesn't have that either. Dedicate GM funds to re-design the High Value Engines. Third, interiors are too gimmicky. Take a step back and bring back more buttons and less black plasti-chrome. Forth, noise isolation. These are supposed to be luxury cars, but sound like a Malibu inside.