QOTD: 10 and 2 or 9 and 3?

Over the holiday break I saw some sort of minor Twitter/X spat between automotive journalists -- apparently one posted a picture of themselves driving and another took issue with hand placement -- and I got to wondering: Where on the steering wheel do you put your hands?

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NHTSA Probing Ford Fusion Steering Wheel Detachments

Perhaps more than any other vehicle component, a steering wheel must function properly for the safe operation of a car or truck. Without it, you’re just along for the ride.

That’s why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is taking three reports of steering wheels detaching from the column in late-model Ford Fusions so seriously. In one case, the wheel came off in the driver’s hands. The agency has now opened a preliminary investigation into three model years of the Fusion.

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Piston Slap: Zoom, Zoom … Wander?

TTAC Commentator AbqJay writes:

A couple of months ago I bought a slightly used 2016 Mazda 6 Grand Touring with 18,000 miles. The car is my wife’s daily driver; I drive it about once a week, and for longer trips, such as a jaunt I took from our home in Albuquerque to southern California in December. It’s hard to believe, but this is my first wrong-wheel drive car. The Mazda 6 is roomy, has decent power, gets fabulous mileage, and has an interior filled with creamy leatherette seating and trim, and soothing blue LED lighting. Since no one wants to buy this car, we got a great deal on it. So far so good.

Then I drove it to Cali.

On the drive, I noticed the steering is heavy. As in really heavy. As in my wrists hurt after driving it for about 20 minutes on the interstate. It feels like I am wrestling with it, even though the steering appears to be dead center.

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Report: Ford, Regulators Aware of Power Steering Issues, Still No Recall

The New York Times reported that federal regulators have received about 150 complaints over four years about power steering failures in the 2012 model year Ford Focus, including 124 crashes with injuries, with no recourse. One crash reportedly killed an 89-year-old New Jersey woman, although federal investigators concluded, “a steering failure is most likely not implicated,” according to the New York Times.

Despite the widespread reports by owners and the manufacturer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hasn’t asked Ford to recall the car. Ford has issued two service bulletins to dealers to inform consumers that the electric-assisted steering could lose power on startup and “wander” at highway speeds.

Safety authorities told the New York Times that its investigations revealed that in most of the crashes the fault was with the steering wheel and not necessarily the power steering.

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Piston Slap: ND Verdict on Electric Power Steering?

San writes:

I have been interested in the Mazda MX-5 for a while now. I had a few questions based upon my interest in the 2016 MX-5.

Mazda has also decided to switch from hydraulic steering to electric steering in the MX-5. In a niche enthusiast vehicle, is there any reason that this is happening? All I read about are enthusiast reviews about how numb electric steering is in cars, and Mazda makes this change in the face of all the criticism. Is it just CAFE laws? Or is there another reason that escapes me?

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Piston Slap: Ease of Right Hand Drive Conversion?

Sure, why not?

Jeremy writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Greetings (again) from Australia. I’ve got a question regarding converting from left- to right-hand-drive. No idea if you’re the right person to send this to (you could do worse – SM) but I’ll send it anyway.

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Piston Slap: Taking Control of Torque Steer?

M.D.K. writes:

Good Afternoon. This will be my third query to this column, the first being an ill advised plan to put my wife in an old Mercedes hatched in an Afghan Bunker, the Second being for our Afghan Trailblazer that wouldn’t run. The Benz never materialized (thankfully) and the Trailblazer was made to run reasonably well with a fuel filter and removal of the clogged catalytic converter (The EPA man wasn’t coming to Bagram). Sadly about a week after we got the Trailblazer running they collected it in an effort to go to an all diesel fleet. It was replaced with a TaTa pickup.

This actually pertains to a vehicle in my own fleet, my wife appliance grade 2007 Hyundai Tucson.

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Piston Slap: A Primer on Wheel Offset and Backspacing

Long-time TTAC Commentator 86er writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Could Piston Slap furnish me with a be-all/end-all explanation about wheel offsets? The more I try to read up on it on the web, the more confused I get. I’m pretty clear that RWD (at least traditionally) went with the low-offset while the FWD revolution made high positive offsets the industry standard, at least in passenger cars.

A few years back, I had purchased a set of winter tires on rims for my trusty ol’ 92 Vic and later after research found out that the rims were medium-offset that went on a 4×4 Ranger of similar years. I’ve heard that putting on a different-offset wheel can hurt steering/suspension parts like ball joints, but I’ve never seen it in black-and-white, so to speak.

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Piston Slap: Divorced Sleeper Flew The Coupe?

TTAC Commentator raresleeper writes:

Hello, Sajeev!

I need your wisdom and sound advice, Kind Sir. After what could be called a much needed separation from my wife (undoubtedly the beginning of a very long divorce proceeding), I purchased myself a vehicle. A 2006 Accord Coupe v6 6-Speed.

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Piston Slap: The Fuel Harbinger of Fusion Steering Fail?

TTAC commentator Bobby Flashpants writes:

Howdy Sajeev,

I have an unique issue with my 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid. I’ve posted about it at fordfusionforum.com, and no one so far has heard of anyone with the same issue. Here’s the link for the post, and the text is reproduced (and edited to remove site-specific context) below:

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Piston Slap: The Minima-Maxima and The Circle of Life

Fred B. writes:

Sajeev,

You recent article about racks prompted me to write. I am the proud owner of a 1996 Nissan Maxima. I’ve had it since about 30k miles. Over the course of its 209k mile life it has garnered additional accouterments along with its original generous kit. Specifically, the paint has gracelessly aged in the Texas sun to a rosy multi-hued patina that varies from nearly bare steel on some of the flat parts to the original red on the sheltered parts. The car hasn’t lived in Texas all of its life. Its formative years were spent in Indiana, where the salt festooned winter streets customized the underside. In fact, it used to make such a racket that I removed the heat shields from the exhaust system.

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  • 28-Cars-Later Can we end debt slavery next? Its getting to the point where its no longer voluntary.
  • Carson D Honda and Toyota still make the best American cars.
  • Slavuta I just though, with this rate we could make Cinco De Mayo a national holiday as well. Since we have tens of millions of American Mexicans, and probably more than African Americans
  • Wjtinfwb Well, it LOOKS pretty great for 36 years old and 356k miles! I've seen plenty of 2 decade newer trucks that looked like a shrapnel bomb went off inside and and exterior that looked worse. This owner got everything out of that truck it had. Time to let it retire to the farm.
  • Wjtinfwb Stellantis. They've gone from Hero to Zero in 24 months with some really stupid decisions and allowing politicians to influence their business. They also hung onto old products way too long and relied on RAM and Jeep to pull them through. RAM plays in the most competitive market of all, full-size trucks and competition is brutal with Ford and GM keeping their foot to the floor on development and improvement. Chrysler now has one model, a 5 year old van. Dodge made a living off old cars with stupendous power, that's gone with the mothballing of the Hemi. The Hornet is an overpriced joke. Now they have new Durango Pursuit's self-destruction because of a plastic oil cooler that self destructs and dumps oil into the coolant lunching the engine. Grand Cherokee, a staple of Jeep has not been well received and has limited power options due to canning the Hemi. Now they've got to build interest around the Hurricane turbo in-line 6 in trucks, Charger's and Jeeps. If that engine turns out to be problematic its likely lights out in Sterling Heights.