I have a question related to maintenance on a 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo. It currently has 45k miles, and I have owned it for only 4 months (had 20k when I took ownership of it). As you can see, it is driven a whole lot, almost exclusively on the great interstates of the Southeastern US of A. I average 5-6k per month. I am an outside sales rep. and drive from SC to MS and everywhere in between weekly.
My question is this:
My father and I are Pontiac Fiero people, as we have owned nine Fieros in the past ten years (my first car was a 1986 Fiero GT). We are quite mechanically familiar with them as we have done little to major work on all of them. My dad currently has a 1988 Fiero Formula that we did a complete restoration on about five years ago. That car is an absolute blast to drive as the stock engine was modified to make considerably more power. After spending last summer driving that car almost every day I knew that someday I wanted a Fiero like his.
When you think of a cop car or a taxi, chances are this vehicle will pop in your mind.
Now think of the cars that old people drive. No not Camrys! Get that thought off your mind right now mister!
Well, come to think of it, that’s a big part of the problem. If any car out there is stuck in the netherworld of wholesale heaven at the auto auctions, it’s this one.
First of all I wanted to thank you for your great blog, I read it daily. Now I recently have bought a 2010 Lexus RX 350 with 30K miles on the clock. the original warranty will expire this coming January, since I have bought the car I have put about 5K on it without any problems, now should I buy the extend warranty or not?
The car was a returned 3 year lease which I got a pretty good deal since the dealer was a family friend; at that time they quoted me $2000 for the 5 year 75K extended warranty.
I’m faced with a problem that’s hard to solve: the problem of being 21 years old and stuck with a grandma car. I drive a 1995 Buick Skylark coupe with the GM 60 degree V6 (3.1 liter) and a four speed automatic transmission. It handles rather decently for a pedestrian GM product, but as you would expect from a lower-RPM pushrod V6 hooked to a 4-speed slushbox, it has about as much power as Queen Elizabeth II.
I tried to sell my car and upgrade to something more speed freak 21-year-old friendly, but gave up after not even getting close to a sale. My question is…should I sell the car at a rock bottom price just to get a more lively set of wheels, or invest a couple of bucks trying to make the old Buick a bit less of a snoozer?
Ah, the good old days. A time when smartphones were just PDA’s with hormone imbalances.
A time of basic cell phones, brick-thick cameras, and camcorders barely big enough to require a hand strap.
I remember all this old tech like it was yesterday, and for one simple reason: I still used all of them until recently.
I just wanted to follow up the post with the resolution. I’m not sure if this is important to you all, but I see that it’s an issue with Bimmers sometimes as well. I switched the bulbs from right to left. My passenger side light had been flickering off. When I switched the bulbs, the issue went to the driver’s side, which seemed to narrow down the issue to a bulb problem.
A working-class song, “Lawyers, Guns And Money” pierces my mind like a mantra as I wander around a place known here in Georgia as “The Gold Dome.”
Everything around me is marble and exquisite, with the exception of the Romanesque D.C.-styled dome on top, which is gilded in gold leaf. Expensive suits are ubiquitous. Formalities are only surface-deep, and the money passes from corporation, to lobbying group, to lobbyist, and finally to the congressman’s election campaign quicker than an auctioneer like me can say all these words.
This swarm of money is designed to enshroud the legalities of big people screwing the little people. Forty-nine state legislatures have prostrated themselves to franchise dealer lobbies. The faces bow and the rears spew out the stink that is government-sanctioned, legalized theft.
Longtime TTAC commentator mikey writes:
In the years since I last wrote to you my personal circumstances took a few turns. When the dust settled, I ended up with three cars. I decided to keep all three cars. The Cobalt is my daily/winter driver, and I will drive it to the ground. My wife loves the Mustang: we drop the top and take it on a cruise, she loves it, and it gets us out of the house.
About a year or so ago, I was feeling sorry for myself, traded the Impala in, and bought a new 2011 2SS Camaro with a six speed. It is a very cool car. If I’m having a bad day I pull it out of the garage, detail it and look at it. Once in a while, we may take it for a drive. Those drives are getting more and more rare. Less than 8000 kms on the clock, but I’m not planning on selling it. That may change, but not for a while…
One thousand, nine hundred, and fifty two dollars.
That is how much the average Georgian is supposed to pay in tax, title, and registration fees every year according to Bankrate.com.
When I read that factoid, my eyebrows almost flew off my head. The amount had no cents, and the statement made no sense because I happen to be the guy who collects the taxes from my customers and sends them to the state. Only a $28,000+ car purchase every single year would make this possible, and Georgia is a notoriously poor state. Out of a population of nearly 10 million, our state registered fewer than 300,000 new vehicle sales in 2012.
I quickly concluded that Bankrate.com had done little homework except to launched a PR campaign, under the guise of a study, that was heavy on the numbers and light on the facts.
I also decided to read through the list since 49 other states were also given their daily dose of tax calculations. Immediately, I saw enough red flags to warrant a bit more detail.
So I found a 2011 Saab 9-5 that I just love. I have never owned a Saab. Do they break a lot? I don’t want to spend thousands on car repairs. Been there done that. Please let me know what your honest opinion is on whether I should buy this car or not. Thanks for your time.
“Don’t bid on that. I’m on it.”
Normally I wouldn’t be so mouthy and blunt with my competitors. But this guy was a rare breed. A large scale buyer and owner of five different car lots who maybe, just maybe, would give me the break I needed with buying this partricular vehicle.
Of course I would return the favor whenever it was asked of me. I just didn’t expect it to be the very next car.
After about seven seconds of futility trying to find a higher bid, the auctioneer laid down his hammer. I had bought this…
TTAC commentator wstarvingteacher writes:
I have been lurking on this site for at least three years. Comment some but mostly subscribe without commenting. I have been spending some time thinking about what I’m going to buy for my “jack of all trades” second car. Life changes so your needs change also.
Steve Lang might not be “thrilled by the shill”, but here at TTAC, we’re delighted to see him return. As always, he drove a tough bargain, but he’s back. Look for more “Hammer Time” articles from our rogue buy-here-pay-here specialist in the future! — JB
“Did he just try to run me up on a $500 car?”
The auctioneer had seen my bid, taken it, and then moved his body to a 90 degree angle from where I stood. He quickly took a bid. A bit too quickly for me to believe it.
Magically, a $600 bid had been taken somewhere between the sea of bodies and the coke machine, as he quickly went back to me looking for more. I saw the low mileage 1994 Geo Prizm with the banged up body slowly move away as the auctioneer tried to make eye contact and get me to bid again. Except I wasn’t watching from the same spot anymore. I walked away. The shill bidding that would have cost me at least $150 was now worth nothing.
I knew his trick because, a bit over 10 years ago, it was my job to help the auctioneer make it work.
My wife has a 2009 CRV EX-L with a bit over 100,000 miles on it. Its a great car in great condition and seems to have quite a bit of life left in it. Lots of highway miles in a short period of time have been easy on it. But there are two issues:
1) Every time I get in it I smell a very strong musty odor.
2) My wife swears it doesn’t exist.
TTAC commentator mnm4ever writes:
I have 2 slightly older cars in my stable and both are having similar issues. We have a 2001 MR2 Spyder with 72k miles, and a 2002 Honda CRV with 230k miles. The CRV recently got new shocks and springs, new lower front control arms and front compliance bushings, and new front ball joints. While it now rides a little bit better, it still crashes over bumps and just feels like an old worn suspension even with all the new components.
I own two cars – a 2003 A4 3.0 quattro with 81k miles and a 2005 Boxster S with 50k miles. Both were bought used and both have been relatively inexpensive to maintain (so far). I went ahead and replaced the timing belt on the A4 earlier this year due to the car’s age, despite the fact the service manual doesn’t call for a new timing belt until 105k mi (which would occur at 13 years old based on my annual mileage).
That said, my wife is about to have our first baby and this has called my car choices into question. The A4 is pretty small – too small for a kiddo and all her associated stuff – and the Porsche, well, that’s a non-starter. Since I can’t turn the airbag off, my kid wouldn’t see the front seat of the Porsche until she’s a teenager.
The question is: do I trade in both cars and buy a family friendly SUV (say a VW Touareg) or keep the Boxster and trade the Audi in on something a lot less expensive, yet still family friendly? I am torn – I really enjoy the Porsche.
One of the awful side effects of being really really good looking is that you tend to have lots of kids; and four kids later I find myself driving a VW Touran. It is the sensible-shoes option for the sexually successful in Europe- cheap to buy, cheap to run. Drinking in the TTAC cool aid, on a recent trip to the USA I booked a Lincoln Town Car for the six of us from Hertz, and ended up in a Dodge Durango; after which I have found a bit of red on my neck.
My question is – when should I sell my current car? Our family runs a 2004 Pontiac Vibe with 109k miles. It is our only car and it seems to run better since it broke the 100k mark. It has been exceptionally reliable, cheap to own, and gets excellent mileage – I get 29mpg average! We like being a one car family and intent to keep it that way unless we suddenly become independently wealthy.
TTAC commentator BeyondxB writes:
Long term lurker here.. been seeing a lot of Turbo products lately and I wonder is turbo truly making its way to the mainstream? Will we see Corollas with 1.8 turbo engines go on sale anytime soon, and being well received by the automatic-driving masses? I still hold the idea that some Subaru turbos will explode after 3 years (some things you learn in highschool are hard to forget) , is that still true these days?
TTAC Commentator MightyTall writes:
I’ve been reading your articles and enjoying your sage advice given to other people. And since you said you’re running low on submissions, here’s mine: I’m currently driving a well maintained reliable 140hp 2.0l Turbodiesel, 6-speed manual 2007 Passat station wagon … 157.000 km on the clock and no troubles.
I enjoy your columns and thought I would get your input regarding what I should do with my current vehicle, a 2002 Acura TL 3.2. I purchased the vehicle new almost 12 years ago. The Acura has about 200,000 miles on it and is still on its third-transmission. As we all know, the transmission used on this vehicle was problematic but seems to be running okay. The car is very clean inside.
This is my second time writing in about my Oldsmobile. I solved the cooling problem with a mechanical fan, however now I am having another problem. As you may recall I swapped in a ZZ4 GM Performance 350 CI motor, and now it will “diesel” for awhile after I shut it off. It only does this after it has had a chance to warm up. Do you have any ideas for fixing this?
This is the second question I’ve asked on here, and while I didn’t even follow the advice I received last time and here I am again! Last time I was asking about a sporty car, and I ended up getting a 2007 Ford Ranger, 2.3L, 5 speed, with all of 35,000 miles on it. It is a regular cab with nothing extra on it, a real throw back, manual windows, no AC, a nice basic truck with nothing to go wrong right?
TTAC commentator zamoti writes:
I have successfully nursed along my aging Maxima without replacing the transmission, but now sans muffler, balding tires and growing rust, I feel it may finally be time to part ways. Though it is fun to offer my fellow motorists a dose of the sound and the fury of the delightful 3.0 VQ, I have decided that it is time to grow up and select a more dignified form of transportation. Plus my wife calls me a hillbilly.
I am facing a problem with little real consequence, just more looking for advice. We have a third vehicle, one that isn’t really used much and was purchased for $1400 a couple years ago to serve as a backup when/if one of our primary vehicles was out of service (A 2005 Pahtfinder with 130k miles and a 1998 Rodeo 4×4 with 235k miles). It’s a 1999 Isuzu Trooper 4×4 with about 190k miles on the clock. Other than burning oil there really wasn’t anything wrong with it. Everything worked and to be honest my wife liked driving it much more than her everyday car.
Longtime lurker on TTAC that’s coming out of the woodwork. Love your columns and thanks for your time. I’ve got a 99 Civic with 199000 km (124000 miles) that needs new rear trailing arm bushings on both sides. I’m looking at about $500 to get them replaced.
I have acquired two VM Motori RA 428 engines that were pulled from new Chrysler minivans in 2009. The van were converted to electric drivetrain in LA. I want to install them in a pickup but because they were never installed in a truck from the factory, it will have to be a custom job.
I am coming out of the throes of a mid-life crisis that caused me to replace a workable Mazda 5 several years ago with a sleek-looking Honda Civic coupe. Now that my boys are getting older, rear space room in the Honda is starting to become an issue, so I am looking to trade off the Honda for something with lots of rear seat space for hauling around the family, friends and clients.
After doing research, the two most viable candidates seem to be a 2012 Chevy Malibu LTZ with a V6 or a 2011 Crown Vic. Both would be about the same cost — $14 to 15k — and both would have about the same mileage — 35k. The last gen Malibu seems to be the only mid-sized sedan in my price range that actually has rear seat leg room sufficient for a 6 foot tall adult. It has more room than the last gen Impala, which I had originally looked at, but ruled out once I sat in the back of one with my knees jammed into seat back.
I was recently greeted with the warm, orange glow of a check engine light on my 2002 BMW 530iA with 93,000 miles. I took the car to AutoZone and had the code read. It’s a P0741, which indicates a failing torque converter. This is apparently a common issue on E39s with the ZF 5 speed automatic, as the seals in the torque converters tend to deteriorate.
I am seriously considering purchasing a 1965 Mustang Fastback from a private seller on craigslist. He owes $3000 on the vehicle. I myself will have to take out a loan to pay for said car. The title to the car is held by the same institution that will be lending me the money. The situation is somewhat further complicated because this institution has no local branches to sit down with a representative and the current payer on the car to do the necessary paperwork. Compounding the issue is the fact that I live in a different state, 200 miles from the car’s location.
I’m writing you because I’ve searched and asked model-specific forums, and mechanics, to no avail. I have the last of the 1st Gen SLK AMGs. I love this car, and I’ve loved it since the first non-AMG launched in the late 90s. Overall, it’s well maintained – a trend which I continue – and I’ve had it for a few years. I have one major issue.
I have a piston slap question for a friend at work. She drives an ’11 Mazda CX-7 2.3. For over a year she has had an issue with fuel in the oil. Enough that the oil level has been as much as 1″ above the full mark on the dipstick as a result (oil level was checked after service, and frequently between services). This is noticed within weeks of service/oil change.
TTAC Commentator jco writes:
I have a quick but also possibly interesting question: in new VWs with DSG, the LCD info on the dash will tell you exactly what gear number you are in. Obviously with this particular transmission it’s necessary to do this. but why can’t other cars with conventional transmissions, either automatic or manual, have this small but useful feature? have other cars featured this?
Given the sudden multiplication of available gears in upcoming transmissions which have been a hot topic on TTAC recently, maybe it should be mandatory in a future sedan with an 8 speed transmission.
Also, FYI, my phone autocorrected your name to Sanjeev.
First, a big “thank you” to you and all of the contributors and commenters on TTAC for hours of free entertainment. Keep up the good work! Now that I’m done buttering everybody up I’ll get to the matter at-hand. I have a 2005 Subaru Outback 2.5i (base) which has been my wife’s daily driver. (pictured above, literally – SM)
Coupe Confusion writes:
I currently own a 2012 Mustang V6 with a manual transmission. I’ve added Flowmaster exhausts and a cold air intake, so it scoots along very well, looks great, and has nice creature comforts. However, I’ve been offered an opportunity to buy a mint 1978 911SC that has been with its current owner for 25 years. In the last 10k miles/5yrs it has had an engine-out rebuild, $13k paint job, and all the great stuff done to update the transmission, cam tensioners, refinished Fuchs, etc. Economically I can basically sell the Mustang and buy the 911 and possibly have some money left over due to my connection with the owner.
TTAC commentator Kovalove writes:
Long-time lurker on a daily basis for over 5 years now. Not sure if this is a worthy question for Piston Slap but here we go: In about two weeks’ time I’ll make my final payment (0% loan ftw) on my 2008 Mazda3 GT 4-door (‘S Grand Touring’ in US spec) with just over 97,000 km. It has served me well with no at-cost repairs other than routine maintenance (some minor stuff was covered by warranty). I have been looking forward to payment-free living and would happily keep the car for many more years, but one thing has been rattling around in the back of my mind…
I have a 1999 Nissan Frontier. 207k miles, 2.4L four cylinder. I have a Service Engine light which comes on AFTER driving for 30 minutes, parking it and letting it sit for 30 minutes. When I come back and start the truck I get the vibration and Service Engine light. The code is a P0303, i.e. cylinder #3 misfire.
Last October I was able to purchase a car I had been swooning over for about 15 years: A ’98 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC. It has about 108000 miles and is my daily driver. During the summer months I generally prefer to ride a motorcycle, so I need to do something with this car. Selling it is out of the question, as it only has a few cosmetic blemishes (that will soon be tended to), so it will require some…more.
My question is, what do I go with first; Supercharger or 5-6 speed?
Yaw A. writes:
It’s the dude whose mom had the sludged RX300 a while back. Thanks for publishing that. I have another question/update.
Someone hit mom in the RX300 about 2 weeks ago. She is fine but the car needs about $5000 in work. My dad has a 2003 M45 that has been sitting in the driveway for at least a year now that is not running (you can’t make this up). Rather than fix the M45, he bought an old Altima V6. If you are confused so far don’t worry, I am too.
I wasn’t expecting a “Part II” for this story: converting an analog phone to digital sounds comically nonsensical these days. But did you know that people once spent big money, back in the day big dawg money, so a (car) phone they’ve trusted for years lived to see another day…in the digital age?
Such a story landed in my Inbox. You know you wanna click ‘dat link to learn more!
I traded in my 99 Dodge Dakota for a 2002 New Edge Cougar (2.5V6, automatic) in 2006. At the time it had 35k on it and I was the second owner. It started its life in Ohio, and I bought it in Flint Michigan. A year after I had it, I pulled out of a gas station in heavy traffic and got hit dead on at the front wheel by an Accord. I had it towed to the dealer and repaired completely there. After that repair, a year and a half later I had to do the ball joints and CV shaft on the right side.
It started innocently enough: Derek Kreindler posted the above photo on Facebook for nothing more than a few social media lulz. Which triggered a memory on my end of Al Gore’s Internet: of a cellular phone residing in the console of my Lincoln Mark VIII. Even worse, it reminded me of the way-cool hack to make it work in the digital age. The conversation went downhill from there, and the boss man suggested I blog all about it. Won’t you join me in the cellular madness?
TTAC commentator wannabewannabe writes:
I wrote you a while back about my 1990 Chevy pickup, but I’ve since moved on to more interesting cars.
I have a 1994 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham (B/D-Body with an LT1 FTW!) that looks literally identical to this one, same color inside and out. It currently has just under 184k miles on it, is my daily driver, and is in pretty good shape. Very reliable car!
Aside from the great friendships
forced via encouraged bribing that naturally occur when like-minded people congregate, the 24 Hours of LeMons is a fantastic opportunity for those wearing a Judge’s robe. Take last month’s race at Eagles Canyon Raceway: when stupid (yet purposeful) things like this Flavor Flav clock on the dash of this Mitsubishi Eclipse arrive, I can’t help feeling like I’m hosting “ Pimp My Ride LeMons” edition…
While Xzibit makes hilarious faces/comments as the kids talk about their hooptie’s general crappiness, I just snap a photo and begin judging them…so click the link to see more hilarity.
As the resident car enthusiast in family, I’d appreciate your input on the following situation I’ve been asked for my input on.
My parents (in their late 60s) are currently looking to replace one of their two vehicles with a new small crossover. Their current vehicles are as follows:
– 2000 Chrysler 300M w/sport package, 80k miles, virtually all city miles
– 2003 Chevy Impala, 110k miles, virtually all highway miles (my dad was a salesman and bought the car for peanuts after he used it as a company fleet vehicle)
TTAC commentator confused1096 writes:
Writing to you again after a hiatus of a three years. You and various commentators helped with my not so dearly departed Windstar (died of a blown transmission a couple of months after article). Now hoping I can get some input on a decent car.
In December of 2011, through an unfortunate chain of events, I became the not-so-proud owner of a 2007 Malibu. True to its origin as an ex-fleet car, it is saddled with the miserly 4-banger engine rather than the still-slow-but-adequate V6. The only positive attributes of this car are its cheap cost to own and excellent fuel economy for its size. It presently has about 80,000 miles on it – I expect to get another 40K out of it before the transmission implodes (domestic automatic – you get what you pay for).
I usually buy vehicles that need the timing belt replaced. (Most people trade in or sell at that point for $ reasons). I do most of the work myself because it’s not overly complicated if you follow a manual. People at my office ask me about general car maintenance. When I ask about timing belt changes they always respond with, “Do I need to change that?” or “I have never changed that.”
Several years ago a friend suggested to me that I had an old soul. I pretended to not understand what he meant even though I watched old television shows, saw old movies and listened to the big band sounds of the thirties and forties.
I’m beginning to come to grips with my old soul though and I need a bit of advice.
TTAC Commentator PartsUnknown writes:
I have a transmission issue, but to mix it up a little, it’s not attached to a Honda. This is my dad’s 1999 Dodge Dakota with the 3.9 liter V6 boat anchor. When shifted into drive, it will move forward but will not shift itself out of first gear. Moving the column shifter does nothing. Reverse gear works fine. The level and condition of the trans fluid is good. The truck isn’t worth much as it’s a 2WD regular cab (worthy of a scarlet A in New England), but here’s the thing: it only has 74,000 miles and is in otherwise good shape.
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- Crown They need to put the EcoDiesel back in the Grand Cherokee. I have a 2018 and it has been the most reliable vehicle I ever owned. 69,000 miles and only needed tires, and regular oil and fuel filter changes.
- El scotto Y'all are overthinking this. Find some young hard-charging DA seeking the TV limelight to lock this kid up. Heck, have John Boehner come up from Cincy to help the young DA get his political career going. Better yet, have the young DA spin this as hard as he or she can; I'm the candidate for Law and Order, I defied our go-easy office and leadership to get this identified criminal locked up. Oh this could be spun more than a hyper active kid's top.Now I'd do some consulting work for Little Kings Original Cream Ale and Skyline Chili.
- El scotto Pondering if he has a clean brandy snifter. Well but, ah, I mean the original Grand Wagoneer was fully loaded and had a V-8. The original Grand Wagoneer had an almost cult-like following with a certain type of woman. Attractive, educated high earning women; or those that put on the appearances of being that way.Our esteemed HerR DOKtor Perfessor again shows how ignorant he is of the American market. What he deems "bread-vans on stilts" are highly coveted by significant others that are also highly coveted. The new Grand Cherokee with the new well engineered V-6 will sell as well as the ones from the 80s some of us get wistful over. The only real question will be: LL Bean or Orvis edition?
- El scotto Well, I've had cats that are smarted than a great many members of congress. I rather doubt that any of the congresspeople Matt named are engineers, finance people or project managers. Ya know, professionals you call in to get a job done.Today is Wednesday, this will be out of the 36 hour news cycle by Friday. Oh it might get mentioned again on OCT 6. Unless there are cute animals to put on TV that day.
- El scotto Oh My Good Lord Yes! Gents, this is a Caddy that carries on the soul of Caddy. Loud, brash, and apologetically American. Also large and in charge and one of GM's best evah engines. What used to be a flash roll is now bottle service.Can't deal with that reality? There are plenty of excellent SUVs/CUVs on the market. I'm a former Escape owner. The Escape was a sensible lil CUV, this Caddy is just way over the top.Canyon carver? Not a chance, this is based on a Silverado frame. Easy to park? Toss the valet the keys. Will some of the other high-end SUVs have better "soft touch" materials that make car journalist get tingly all over? Of course.This Caddy is designed to eat up huge and I mean huge amounts of American interstate miles. Four people and their luggage? Easily.