Piston Slap: Is a Frontier Necessary for Your Frontier?
Phil writes:

Sajeev,

I am currently the owner of a 2011 Nissan Frontier that I bought in February of last year. It is both the first truck and new vehicle that I have purchased. I am in the process of buying a house and have a little buyer’s remorse for purchasing a new vehicle.

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Piston Slap: Time to Twist Up the Tach?

TTAC commentator David Holzman writes:

Sajeev,

I have a new (to me) ’08 Civic LX 1.8 liter, stick, bought with 35k on the clock. The previous owner was a woman who traded it for a RAV4 I think (I bought the car from a Toyota dealer). I’m guessing partly based on gender stereotypes that she wasn’t availing herself of the high revs to flog a lot of performance out of the car.

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Hammer Time Remix: The Keeper Culture

My pants still fit me from college.

Well, they are sweatpants after all.

They were given to me by a friend of mine who is known as a “Datsunaholic”. He keeps a few old cars. A few of those models have been written up by Paul Niedermeyer who now keeps a lot of houses along with his new web site. He invariably finds ‘keeper folk’ from all walks of life. But most of the people he finds are not car enthusiasts at all.

Why do they keep these cars then? Are they perhaps hoarders? Do they suffer the afflictions of the wantless?

Or is this just another write-up inspired by Kevin Bacon?

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Super Piston Slap: NVH = Killing You With Kindness?

While Noise, Vibration, Harshness (NVH) control built into a modern machine is normally your friend, it often kills you with kindness. That’s when NVH hides things that should never be hidden. Shameful. Cowardly. Pathetic. And while I wasn’t expecting this level of deceit when merely replacing the shift knob on the otherwise stock transmission in my 2011 Ford Ranger…well it was thrust upon me. And it can happen to you, too.

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Hammer Time: Is MSRP A Mathematical Study In BS?

In the olden days known as the late 20th century, an ancient artifact called a “newspaper” would be dropped by your front door.

Inside this mostly unrecycled piece of pulp was an automotive “Classified” section. In better times, this magical list of thousands of vehicles would have offered car buyers an incurably acute case of acronymitis. “1994 Camry, ps, pw, a/c, auto, abs, 1 ownr! $5500 Ph#…”. A short three line list of minimalist communicado would have cost the seller about $50.00 and given them a secondary presence in a newspaper section that made millions for major publishers.

There was only one saving grace if you wanted to find cars for sale that offered big print, big pictures and big discounts. The new car advertising section… and there were two reasons for that.

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Piston Slap: Ter-Sell or Not Ter-Sell?

TTAC Commentator Ryoku75 writes:

Thanks for your response on my question on modern car grilles, you make a good point on modern cars being a bit taller up-front than needed. Now, I own an ’89 Toyota Tercel that needs a rear wheel bearing and exhaust (muffler, piping), otherwise it works fine and has 125k.

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Hammer Time: Futuramic Oldsmobile!

I have very little love for nostalgia because, to be frank, the auto auctions I visit every week are overflowing with it.

As the Rivethead, Ben Hamper, was fond of saying, “The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence until you start cutting that shit down.”

For me that fecal threshing consists of repairs, recon work, and getting a car from yesteryear in the hands of someone who loves it far more than yours truly.

But I do have one tender spot in my heart when it comes to true automotive works of art. Especially when they’re loaded with old school kitsch and delusional fantasies.

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Piston Slap: Test My HVAC, Read My Blog!

TTAC Commentator supaman writes:

Hey Sajeev,

Don’t have to say how much you and the B&B have helped me in the past with auto-related inquiries. Anyway, you need more material? Well here’s more. Up to perhaps a week ago, everything was fine on my STEED. I haven’t been using the A/C much because the weather has been much cooler but then it started to warm up. Got in the car to leave work and turned on the A/C to cool the car a bit and….nothing.

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Piston Slap: Lifespan of the Suburban Tranny?
Duncan writes:Hi Sajeev,I have a question about a 4L60-E transmission in a 2001 Chevy Suburban K1500. The truck has 159k miles. The previous owner purchased the truck 7 years ago with 90k miles and hasn’t changed any fluids in that time other than oil – I don’t know anything about the truck’s early history.
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Piston Slap: Subaru Piston Slap!

TTAC Commentator theduke writes:

I bought a 2003 Subaru Legacy SE sedan a little while back for my girlfriend. It has the “Phase 2” EJ25 SOHC motor. Living in Michigan the AWD is nice, and it was a one owner car with documented service history and I got a good price. The car has 105,000 miles on it, and the previous owner had the head gaskets and timing belts replaced about 10k miles ago by the Subaru dealer.

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Super Piston Slap: Fixing an Automotive…Forum?

Sajeev asks:

I started my professional (so to speak) automotive writing career as a moderator of an automotive message forum. Perhaps you, dear reader, are like me: actually giving a crap about the Internet once you realized there were forums to learn more about your car. If so, I need your advice when it comes time to help the place that helps so many.

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Hammer Time: Black Friday Deal? Or No Deal.

Motor Oil! Must Buy Motor Oil!

Forgive me for offering the two millionth article about Black Friday shopping. But this personal screed will not be about, “Buy! Buy! Buy!”

It will be all about, “Don’t! Nein! Nyet!”.

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Piston Slap: Fix My Sunfire, Sanjeev!

TTAC Commentator Tankinbeans writes:

Hello Sanjeev –

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Piston Slap: Exhausted After a Little Crack?
TTAC Commentator jco writes:

Sajeev:

In response to your call for more reader-submitted queries, I realized I’ve had one right in front of me and have never thought to ask my fellow TTAC commenters. I have a 2006 Toyota 4runner with the amazing 4.7L 2UZFE V8 engine, currently with 90,000 miles. I purchased the truck with 55,000 miles. However, this motor seems to have a fairly common weakness.

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Piston Slap: Modifying the 80-year Old With the Clap?
Stephen writes:

I have a 1.8T GTI, owned since new and more or less problem-free. Its clutch went early, and it occasionally eats a sensor, but otherwise it’s been a contrast to the image of VWs as unreliable money-pits. Now, this is a MKIV, which if you listen to Jeremy Clarkson or any of the VWvortex boffins, is about as desirable as an 80-year old Russian lady with the clap.

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Piston Slap: RV Ready for Hydroboost Brakes?
Adam writes:

Sajeev,

I have a 1989 Winnebago Class A motorhome that’s built on a Chevy P30 chassis that’s been sitting out on the side of my house basically since I moved to Arizona about 5 years ago. Before I brought it out here I lived in it for about 6 months as a newlywed in a garage on the side of 80-94 in Gary, Indiana; I have no idea how I am still married but that’s beside the point.

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Hammer Time Remix: The Ultimate Tightwad Car

Saturn? Civic? Neon? A diesel owned by this long-time TTAC commeter?

For the longest time I’ve been trying to figure out what penny pinching prodigy earns the most keep. I’ve spent years pondering this question.

Well, more like a few dull moments at the auctions.

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Hammer Time: Cash For Sandy

During the next several weeks you are going to be exposed to a lot of pointless hysteria about used cars prices in the Northeast.

Journalists will point out the extremes and the outliers to a media audience that is always easily attracted to the extremes and outliers of our society.

But it won’t be the truth. The real bump in traffic related to Hurricane Sandy won’t be with used cars at all.

It will be with new cars.

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Piston Slap: Of Panther Love, and a Fox Love Supreme (Part II)

Sajeev writes:

This is an update to a previous Piston Slap query about buying one of the last great American sedans. And there’s no Panther bias here, you insane Rotary guys are free to buy this beast and share your thoughts the same manner. We’ll listen to ANY great story. And go vote while you’re at it…since our opinions can’t help us keep cars in production!

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Piston Slap: The Balding Accord?
Ann writes:

Last fall we purchased for my son a 2003 Honda Accord with 78K. When we had it inspected the mechanic pointed out that a few of the fins on the condenser were missing, but the radiator seemed to be working fine so he didn’t think it was a problem worth worrying about. Well, shortly after we purchased the car my son had an accident which pulled off the bumper. He has been driving this winter with no bumper, thus exposing the condenser.

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Hammer Time: The Used Car Flood After Sandy, And How Not To Get Soaked

As collateral damage of Super-Sandy, stories are making the rounds of water-logged cars dumped on unsuspecting buyers by criminal dealers. Like many fake pictures posted on Twitter and Facebook, these stories are mostly made up, or pushed by new car interests. The dangers lurk elsewhere: In your neighbor’s driveway, on eBay, in the classifieds. Read this story if you don’t want to become a belated victim of Sandy.

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Hammer Time Remix: The Piper Principle

Wrestling fans and auto enthusiasts have a lot in common.

They can be sickeningly loyal to their favorites. Even when it’s obvious their one and only favorite is well past their prime.

They also have a bit of a dopamine problem.

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Super Piston Slap: Poser Perceptions Vs. A Fox Reality
Jeff writes:

Sajeev,

Your “Panther Love” is so well known that it could be termed Legendary. But until your recent comments in “The Ultimate Commute” I did not realize you were also a Fox Body Mustang owner. Definitely my lack of perception and close reading or your articles!

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Piston Slap: Hard Body, Easy Decision?

Robin writes:

Thanks so much for the data on fuel additives. I did later determine that it also can be a salve for ethanol-afflicted soft bits in the fuel lines. Here’s the deal though. My little 1994 Nissan Hardbody is a delightful little vehicle.

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Piston Slap: Hey Mister ZJ…

TTAC commentator photogo2 writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I need someone to tell me I am an idiot.

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Piston Slap: What Can I Do With That Stick in My Hand?

man(ual) in milwaukee (yes really) writes:

hey ho –

i’d like to learn how to drive a manual transmission, and i’d like to learn all the tricks. i hear you can roll it down a hill and pop the clutch to start it, i’ve heard you can shift gears without pushing in the clutch at a certain rpm – are these things true? what other cool things can you do with a manual transmission?

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Piston Slap: Crystal Ballin' With Yo Tranny!

TTAC Commentator itsgotvtakyo writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I recently purchased a 1999 Honda Accord LX for my sister. It has 115,000 on the ULEV 4cyl and an automatic transmission. The car is very straight and clean on the inside and out for the year and miles. The seller was a middle aged gentleman who bought the car four years ago for his daughter. The vehicle has obviously been maintained but there’s one glaring issue I have my fingers crossed on… the transmission.

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Hammer Time: Speed Trap City

Imagine you are driving down on a well traveled interstate on a family vacation.

Everything is good in your life. Traffic is minimal. The road is a never ending horizon of the straight and narrow. Just you and your family. When all of a sudden…

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Piston Slap: Junker or Diamante in the Rough?

Pat writes:

Hi Sajeev,

My fiance drives an ’02 Mitsubishi Diamante, which, despite the bad rap Mitsus get on this site, is actually a pretty nice driving car. The V6 runs strong and the car soaks up the highway miles with ease (24mpg at 75). It has 172,000 on it and it’s her commuter car (20 miles a day, round trip).

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Piston Slap: Twisted Talk on Straight Eights

TTAC Commentator Morea writes:

Sajeev, hope it’s not too dumb, but it really is a question I have! I wish to someday own a car with a straight eight engine.

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Hammer Time Remix: Behind The Gavel

Six hours to showtime.

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Hammer Time: 'Old' New? < or > 'All' New?

The best deal.

Most consumers use this phrase interchangeably with what they really want. The best car.

The question is whether they can find both at the same place.

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Hammer Time: The Weakness

I love old rear wheel drive Volvos.

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Piston Slap: "I Don't Wanna Be a Dream Killer, But…"

James writes:

Dear Piston Slap,

My mom wants to get a Land Rover and asked me to do some research for her. Right off the bat, I didn’t think this was a good idea due to reliability issues. I’m not sure if she would want a Range Rover or an LR4, but she would probably get a pre-owned one from Carmax. I get the impression that the LR4 is less reliable than a Range Rover.

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Piston Slap: When To Say Uncle?

TTAC Commentator nickeled&dimed writes:

Hi Sajeev,

How does one keep an old car going on a shoestring budget? I do repairs myself, which helps, but sometimes I don’t quite pull it off correctly, as my power steering belt loudly proclaims every morning when I cut the wheels to pull out of my parking spot. With a list of items that are showing wear, how do I prioritize, and how do I know when to start shopping for another 10-year used car?

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Hammer Time Remix: Happy Returns!

Does retail always give you the best return when it comes to cars?

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Piston Slap: An STI With A "C. Diff"???

TTAC Commentator robstar writes:

Hello Sajeev+Piston Slap Audience,

A few weeks ago I saw something strange with my lightly-used-never-abused 2005 Subaru WRX STi — A “R. Diff Temp” started flickering on the dashboard.

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Piston Slap: Justification for Voltification?

Jeremy writes:

Sajeev,

Since you asked so nicely I decided to upgrade myself from long time listener to first time caller. Maybe the Best and Brightest will have Words of Wisdom. Maybe? Definitely!

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Piston Slap: a Camry Car Wash Conspiracy?

Scott writes:

Dear Sajeev,

Recently I took my 1999 Toyota Camry (2.2L 4-cylinder) to a touchless car wash with underbody sprayers. This was a car wash that I used often, so I had good luck with it until this one particular day. Prior to getting it washed the Camry ran fine all afternoon, including during the wash.

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Piston Slap: Recall or Total Recall?

Ted writes:

Sajeev,
Here’s what I got: 2002 Saturn L200 156000 miles bought new. Excellent car no problems whatsoever, maintained precisely. Question about timing chain scuttlebutt. Should I change it preventatively , switch to synthetic oil, or just do not worry about?

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Hammer Time: PT Cruiser?

$11,800.

That was the asking price for a 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser down at my local Chrysler dealer back in June 2008. Throw in a $1500 rebate or the “Refuel America” $2.99 per gallon guarantee into the equation, and you may have ended-up with a pre-tax, tag, title price right around $10,300.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Then again, was it? There are a lot of long-term factors to consider when approaching any of the less popular new cars that are in their last years of production. Not all will be a good deal. But you may be surprised. Join me now as we journey down the PT-shaped rabbit hole.

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Piston Slap: The Project Car Beckons?

Sam writes:

Dear Sajeev,

I am an aspiring shade-tree mechanic and I’m itchy to do some work on cars. Unfortunately, I own a 2006 Acura TSX, that needs basically nothing. Changing my oil twice a year isn’t enough for me so I need something else to work on.

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Piston Slap: Permission for a Mustang, Please?

Robert writes:

First of all, thank you for all the fantastic articles. TTAC is one of only a few daily sites I visit that always successfully generates that “second click” to read an entire article, and unlike any of the technology sites I follow, I’m always delighted in reading and learning from the comments section that follows.

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Piston Slap: The 3rd Clutch's the Charm?

Patrick writes:

Sajeev,

My winter car is a 2001 Focus, 170k, duelcam, with a stick. At about 155k the original clutch was replaced. A year and a half later the replacement clutch was replaced. Now the car is in my hands, roughly a year from the previous replacement, and the clutch is in dire need of being replaced. My local trusty mechanic does not do engine and tranny work because he doesn’t want business to back up with tear downs. That’s fine, but I asked his advice anyway.

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Piston Slap: Shark's on a Purging Diet?

TTAC reader Tiburon Guy writes:

2001 Tiburon ( yep, this one again): Gassing up clicks like it’s full, even after only a dollar, then keeps clicking. Tank is at an 8th when fueling and yes, i’ve made sure it’s not the nozzle (and does it no matter where I go).

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Super Piston Slap: Of Panther Love, and a Fox Love Supreme

C.K. writes:

Dear Sajeev Mehta-

First the buttering up – have enjoyed your columns for quite sometime and glad to see a fellow Houstonian have success in the auto journalistic field. Writing you for some vehicle advice and to tell you my own quirky story. And sorry in advance, the email got kind of long. No worries if you want to skim!

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Piston Slap: Putting the HO in Your Colony's 5.0!

Joe writes:

Dear Sajeev,

It was a mild winter here in Minnesota, so it promises to be an early spring. And with spring comes the promise of new automotive projects. Right now we are in the pre-spring thinking and planning stages. Attached is a photo of my possible project. Some background would be helpful.

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Piston Slap: Riddle Me This About Prius' Batteries, Panther Love

Lynn writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I enjoy your columns for their history and technology surprises of what might be wrong. Two history questions:

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Hammer Time: The Return Of The 1967 Arabs!

9:15 A.M. Labor Day.

I get a surprise message on Facebook this morning from a guy who bought an old Volvo 940 wagon from me nearly six years ago.

That BMW? What did it go for?”

A month ago, I posted this article regarding the grey market Bimmer. It had sold on the block for a mere $2,300 due in part to a broken odometer. I clicked on the Ebay listing hoping for a fair disclosure. Instead I got…

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Hammer Time: Sell! Sell! Sell!

Editor’s note: There is a review of this model back from the Farago days. We have an awful lots of old reviews. So feel free to read up on them.

Hello again, Steven,

You may recall our email last March regarding our 1992 Lexus SC300 5-Speed. Thanks for the reply; guess the timing was bad for you with tax time coming up. As you may recall, the car is all original, black with gray interior, looks and runs great, and has slightly less than 25K miles. Here’s the backstory:

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Piston Slap: Butt Draggin' Bushings?

Craig writes:

My daily driver for a while has been a 1988 Volvo 240 sedan with about 100K miles. I do have some nagging maintenance issues I need to address when the weather warms up.

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Piston Slap: The Last Insane Interior Color?

TTAC commentator econobiker writes:

Related to my comment her e, the Japanese makers were early on this common car interior colors. But when did the US makers kill the goof-ball color combos? Like the white Cornithinan leather seats in a brown interior Cordoba posting the other day.

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Piston Slap: Putting Yourself First Via Remote Start?

Jonathan writes:

Sajeev,

I live in Chicago (actually a northern suburb) and own two cars: 05 Scion xB and an 03 Accord (4 cyl Auto). Due to logistics, day care, scheduling, and the like, both cars are used every day for the 1.5 mile drive to different train stations. And as you can imagine, we have some mighty frigid days here in the Windy City, and getting into a frozen car is not a whole lot of fun.

So I was thinking about installing an after-market remote starter in one or both of the cars. My questions are: Is this EVER a good idea? And if so, which types/brands should I look for and what professional installation gotcha’s should I beware of? And will the installation possibly reduce the future reliability of my car’s electrical/starter systems with the installation of such a device.

Thank you,

Jonatha

Sajeev answers:

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Piston Slap: The Re-Stocking Fee?


Aaron writes:

Sajeev,

I currently own a 2007 WRX Wagon with a little over 100,000 miles on it. I love this car, even enough to overlook getting merely 21mpg. Anyways.

As is true with many import car owners who love too much, I started modifying the car almost as soon as I got it. It currently has a 3″ exhaust, a tune, and some miscellaneous other engine bits, with suspension components on order. The car is my current project, and I plan on keeping it for some time. There’s a slight problem though.

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Piston Slap: A Stupid Question About Engine Retardation?

Anonymous writes:

I’ve got somewhat of a stupid question; why does my car roll when it’s parked in gear? My current (135i) and my previous whip (Mazdaspeed3) don’t like staying on any inclines without teetering ever so slowly backwards in a scary, slow, lurching motion.

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Hammer Time: Feeling Blandy

Sometimes there is no point in buying new.

Case in point? Well consider the folks who are the anti-enthusiasts. The ones who look at cars as rolling spreadsheets where the owner simply needs to divine the biggest bang for the buck.

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Piston Slap: 38,000 Impala Police Cars Recalled, Chevrolet Claims Victory?

TTAC commentator Sinistermisterman writes:

Why isn’t Sajeev all over this one like a rash? GM recalls 38,000 cop cars.

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Piston Slap: Paint Protection Possibilities?

George writes:

Sajeev,

I’m the owner of the dark green 1999 Honda Accord Coupe that appeared in prior editions of Piston Slap. Its paint is failing (clearcoat starting to peel and gray patches showing) after many years of sun exposure here in the Dallas area and it’s time to get a new car. I have a garage to protect the car at night, but my engineering career requires that my car spend the day out in the sun on a concrete parking lot. The good news is my cars never get exposed to road salt and snow, ice, frost, and morning dew are pretty much a non-issue for cars that spend the night in a garage.

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Piston Slap: Owner Assisted Hooptie Maintenance?

TTAC Commentator Pete Zaitcev writes:

Dear Sajeev:

I am reading a rather interesting book right now, “Owner Assisted Aircraft Maintenance” by Dan MacDonald. It discusses the maintenance tasks that an airplane owner can perform without being a licensed Airframe & Powerplant mechanic. This got me wondering if a book exists that deals with the maintenance of a 20 to 30-year-old car in general.

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Piston Slap: LSX-FTL???

Adam writes:

I have been on your site for a couple years now and don’t remember ever seeing this topic. Our issue is we have a 2007 Suburban with a 5.3 AFM (Active fuel management) motor that was burning 1 quart of oil per 600 miles.

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  • ToolGuy @Matt, let me throw this at you:Let's say I drive a typical ICE vehicle 15,000 miles/year at a typical 18 mpg (observed). Let's say fuel is $4.50/gallon and electricity cost for my EV will be one-third of my gasoline cost - so replacing the ICE with an EV would save me $2,500 per year. Let's say I keep my vehicles 8 years. That's $20,000 in fuel savings over the life of the vehicle.If the vehicles have equal capabilities and are otherwise comparable, a rational typical consumer should be willing to pay up to a $20,000 premium for the EV over the ICE. (More if they drive more.)TL;DR: Why do they cost more? Because they are worth it (potentially).
  • Inside Looking Out Why EBFlex dominates this EV discussion? Just because he is a Ford expert?
  • Marky S. Very nice article and photos. I am a HUGE Edsel fan. I have always been fascinated with the "Charlie Brown of Cars." Allow me to make a minor correction to add here: the Pacer line was the second-from-bottom rung Edsel, not the entry-level trim. That would be the Edsel Ranger for 1958. It had the widest array of body styles. The Ranger 2-door sedan (with a "B-pillar", not a pillarless hardtop), was priced at $2,484. So, the Ranger and Pacer both used the smaller Ford body. The next two upscale Edsel's were based on the Mercury body, are were: Corsair, and, top-line Citation. Although the 1959 style is my fav. I would love a '58 Edsel Pacer 4-door hardtop sedan!
  • Lou_BC Stupid to kill the 6ft box in the crewcab. That's the most common Canyon/Colorado trim I see. That kills the utility of a small truck. The extended cab was a poor seller so that makes sense. GM should have kept the diesel. It's a decent engine that mates well with the 6 speed. Fuel economy is impressive.
  • Lou_BC High end EV's are selling well. Car companies are taking advantage of that fact. I see quite a few $100k pickups in my travels so why is that ok but $100k EV's are bad? The cynical side of me sees car companies tack on 8k premiums to EV's around the time we see governments up EV credits. Coincidence? No fooking way.