Jon writes: Hey Sajeev, My wife and I recently found out that we’re to add a third child to our family. As such, it’s time to trade in my wife’s 2016 Charger SXT and get something with a bit more room. We’ve decided on something used in the $15-23k range. The obvious and sensible choice is a newer (2015-17) Grand Caravan/Pacifica/Town & Country. There are a plethora available and we could certainly get into something with the same 3.6-liter Pentastar that we have now with under 50k miles on it. I do like the engine and have driven it in minivan form. I would stick with the FCA offerings over the Honda/Toyota vans because I’m fully convinced that I’ll never make up the 25-30 percent price premium the Odyssey/Sienna command on the used market in repair cost savings. On the other shoulder, the crazy part of me is considering getting the best Mercedes-benz E350 wagon that I can find in our price range. I believe I can find something decent from … [Read more...] about Piston Slap: Car Purchase Advice? Pointless!
Josh writes: I’ve asked you a few questions over the years, and the answers have always been excellent. Well now… I’ve yet another: about a month ago I picked up a rather humble ’99 Fleet Car White Saturn SL1. Despite an intermittent “Service Engine Soon” idiot light (which I suspected to be the typical rather crusty EGR valve, and was right), rear power windows I was warned by the owner “to not put them down,” it was clean overall, had traveled only 110k miles in its lifetime, and was a one-owner car. I paid the sum of $1,100 cash money and became the proud new owner. It has four new tires (that match!), doesn’t piss any of its fluids or smoke, and has cold air conditioning. And three cheers for damned near 40 mpg. On to my question: when the engine idles, it sounds “squeaky.” Not squeally, like belt squeal… but squeaky. And it’s more than just a squeak when it idles, it’s present while driving. I can … [Read more...] about Piston Slap: Saturn Squeaks for a New Serpentine Belt?
Brian writes: Hi Sajeev, You are my go-to guy for in-depth automotive knowledge. (Wow! Honored. – SM) My brother has been having a heck of a time with his 2012 Mazda3 Skyactiv. It’s got about 70k miles on it, and in the past 2 years it’s been in and out of the shop. It started with high engine oil consumption (more than a quart per 3k miles, and going up to this day). Then the ignition coils needed to be replaced. Then the MAF and oxygen sensors needed to be replaced. Right after those were fixed, he had to take it back to the shop because there is now a misfire in one of the cylinders. What’s going on here? My only guesses are worn piston rings causing engine oil to run into the combustion chamber (then down the exhaust and ruining the O2 sensor), or malfunctioning PCV, a broken EGR system, intake valves with a lot of carbon deposits, or simply “bad luck” with this car. Hope you are able to shed some light on this mystery. Thanks! Sajeev answers: … [Read more...] about Piston Slap: Misfiring on Mazda 3 Skyactiv’s Diagnosis?
Craig writes: Hey Sajeev, I hate the upsell that happens at places like Jiffy Lube, NTB, etc., and one service they seem hell-bent on pushing on everyone is the transmission flush. I have looked at the service intervals of various vehicles and a lot of them never specify a transmission flush. I’ve read on the internet that it can even be bad for your transmission if it isn’t needed. I don’t doubt there is a finite life for the tranny fluid, but I would just like to hear your and the B&B’s take on the matter. Sajeev answers: Transmission flushes have been discussed in the past (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) so perhaps we should discuss the validity of such selling tactics. But first, a point of order: you might be talking about cross-selling. Upselling is when a shop pushes a synthetic oil change when you wanted the dino stuff. But both happen and they are despised/appreciated depending on the customer. That said, my full-time gig is in car retailing, so take my … [Read more...] about Piston Slap: Wither the Upsell and Cross-sell?
Mike writes: Hi Sajeev. I have a 2007 Volkswagen City Golf with a 2.0-liter and a five-speed manual. It has about 60,000 kilometres (37k miles) and obviously doesn’t get driven very much. My independent mechanic suggested that the timing belt be changed because of the age of the car. He says it is an interference engine and bad things could happen if the belt breaks. I’ve read about others where this has happened, and the cost to fix it. I would like to get your opinion. Sajeev answers: Your man is right: why play valve roulette in an interference engine? Easy answer, so remember why timing belts go bad with age (and not mileage). It’s the material: rubber. Rubber rots over time; a wear item just like engine oil and items people refuse to change like shocks, headlight bulbs, etc… Sure, you may not see the cracks, the hardening, the decreased performance as with a set of dry rotted tires. But it happens and the consequences are likely disastrous on a 2.0 VW … [Read more...] about Piston Slap: Playing Valve Roulette in a City Golf?
Ted writes: Hi Sajeev, I’m about to get a new Golf R and everyone complains about the boring VW Golf design thingamajiggit. Yes. I find the boring classic outside to be comforting. I’m in it for the longevity of the design and body, and want to keep this until it dies or 10 years; I intend to ceramic coat the Lápiz Blue. It’s a manual, of course, and when the clutch eventually dies I may replace with a tougher version and chip it. What I don’t like, and a major strike against the R in my mind, is that the interior is so dark as to make the interior basically invisible. The accents — silver stitching which isn’t prominent and will dull or fade, blue lighting accents which only pop up at night with the doors open — are too limited to make much of an impact. No sunroof in the Canadian R, which is okay by me, and it’s the Audi TFT digital dash, so, lots of lights. However, how can I add an accent or two to the inside which fits and … [Read more...] about Piston Slap: Re-design This Golf R Interior!
Find Reviews by Make: By Sajeev Mehta on March 2, 2018 K.P. writes: Hi Sajeev, It’s the time of year to start tossing out little-used items so we can get more to replace them. One place I’m looking at is the car. I recall my stash of trunk tools back in the dinosaur years while driving the kind of cars I could afford then: Duct tape for interior tears, dropped ceiling linings, fixing plastic over windows that dropped off tracks, etc Pack of “L’eggs” panty hose as temporary water pump belt Wire clothes hanger as spare exhaust pipe clamp or antenna Can of WD-40 Long Craftsman slot screwdriver to pop off distributor cap, prying tires, etc Lug wrench and two-foot pipe as lever (also as protection device) Couple of flashlights with huge 6V batteries Visegrips as combination wrench, hammer, and spare window crank for when your little brother yanks the handles off Bottle radiator leak stop Tire repair kit with rubber plugs Blankets and food in winter … [Read more...] about Piston Slap: Prudent Tool Packing or Junk in the Trunk?
Sam writes: Dear Sajeev, After reading TTAC for many, many years I succumbed and finally got me some panther love. It blows my mind that Ford can make such a well-balanced, corner-carving sedan and then never sell it to civilians. I traded my 2006 Mazda 3 for a 2006 Police Interceptor Crown Vic (170,000 miles). The aftermarket exhaust makes it growl and it parts the sea of entitled BMW drivers hogging the fast lane like a dream. Unfortunately, due to living in glorious urban hellscape that is Oakland, I have to pass smog regularly. I have a check engine light code P0443. I replaced the evap. control module that was supposed to fix it and surprise, it didn’t. The internet says it could actually be my fuel cap. I replaced the gasket on the fuel cap and the check engine light is still on. The next option seems to be to replace all the lines to my fuel system. This seems crazy, just because of a small vapor leak. This is not an expensive car (est. $1,500) and it was only meant to be … [Read more...] about Piston Slap: A Panther Love (EVAP) Purge?
Jay writes: Sajeev, I’ve been enjoying your work on TTAC for several years and (unfortunately) have run into a situation where I think I need your help. After reading Mark’s review of the Ford Flex several years ago, I test drove and fell in love with one — a 2012 Titanium Ecoboost model, to be precise. Fast forward to last month, and I am driving down I-395 when the car starts to lurch; $1,900 later, I have a new fuel injector and a picture of a leaky turbo (rrg). In hopes that Ford would have some type of pity on a 5.5-year-old car with only 53K miles on it, I took it to the dealership. $167 later, we’ve added a transmission seal issue to the running list and they’re asking more than $5,000 to square everything away. I’m hoping you have a magic bullet for this one or, barring that, something snappy to say that will make me laugh. Sajeev answers: Magic bullet? Make you laugh? I’ve made enough Panther Love jokes alongside my cheap shots at … [Read more...] about Piston Slap: Goodwill Repairs to Hit ’em With That Flex?
TTAC commentator Halftruth asks: Hey Sajeev, This question came across my mind recently whilst reading all of the sedan death watch articles on TTAC. What happens to all the tooling and hardware when a model is discontinued/killed off? Can any of this stuff be recycled/redeployed? Consider the Chryco 200, discontinued after 2 years. Will FCA mothball that stuff or throw it out or… something else? Sajeev answers: Finding relevant, concrete facts is challenging, so remember vehicle tooling eventually wears out. Especially for consumer touch points like body parts: perfect panel gaps are paramount to a (perceived?) quality product. Don’t be surprised if vehicles that remain unchanged for years (a la 2009-present Toyota 4Runner) go through multiple sets of tooling. And when the tooling fails to make the cut (so to speak), I reckon most is destroyed. First World manufacturers now refrain from selling sloppy seconds to their Third World counterparts, preferring the role … [Read more...] about Piston Slap: New Life for Old Tooling… Or Not?