Questions/Posts

Got  a question about cars – or bikes? Or anything like that? Post it here and we will do our best to get you some answers!

Email to: epeters952@yahoo.com

Or email Dom at dsruggiero@gmail.com

  89 comments for “Questions/Posts

  1. Phillip the Bruce
    November 6, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Here’s an interesting summary of the ‘news’ coverage of Flight MH17 –
    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/11/western-news-suppression-downing-mh-17-malaysian-jet.html

  2. Warp
    October 30, 2014 at 12:29 pm
    • eric
      October 30, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      Hi Warp,

      I’m for decriminalization of everything that – as such – does not cause tangible harm to anyone. Lane splitting falls into this category.

  3. Brad
    October 24, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Eric,

    I own an early 90s Mazda B Series with a carb and there is a ton of insane stuff added to recirculate air and control emissions etc. It appears that most enthusiasts buy a Weber carb and many “delete” most of the emissions equipment, and even get rid of the ECU.

    Do you have any articles that discuss that pros and cons of this practice?

    • eric
      October 25, 2014 at 6:02 am

      Hi Brad,

      What to do depends greatly on where you live. If you live in an area where they have aggressive (and mandatory) vehicle emissions inspections, especially where there is a visual component in addition to a tailpipe emissions component (that is, the inspector looks under the hood for “modifications” as well as samples the vehicle’s exhaust) you may want to think twice about altering the factory fuel-delivery system in any way. Because they will fail you – and (if it’s like it is in my state) you will not be able to get/renew registration, rendering the vehicle effectively unusable.

      But, if your state does not require regular emissions testing – or they are fairly lax about it (no looking under the hood, just have to pass the tailpipe “sniffer” test) then… you can probably get away with it.

      But, here’s the truly important consideration: Will removing the factory emissions stuff result in a better-driving truck?

      Probably not.

      Because your truck’s emissions equipment is part of an integrated system. Removing sensors or EGR piping will – among things – cause the computer to throw codes (“check engine” light) and may very well result in more problems than positives. The ignition system is also probably controlled by the ECU, so if you were to remove the ECU, the ignition system might not function. To get the engine to run without the ECU you would probably need to install an entirely new ignition system – “stand alone” distributor, etc. The aftermarket Weber carb would bolt on, though. But, again, it may not be compatible with the vehicle’s electronic controls.

      Probably the simplest thing to do is get all the factory equipment running as it should. It may be possible to use the Weber carb, too – with the ECU and retain “emissions compliance.” It’s not necessarily illegal to install a non-stock carburetor – provided it has a “CARB” exemption (California Air Resources Board). Same basic rule as applied to, for instance, aftermarket car exhaust systems.

      Keep us posted!

      • Brad
        November 13, 2014 at 12:40 pm

        Eric,

        Thank you for your thoughtful response, I forgot I asked this question until I saw one of your articles on LRC today.

        Not to make you too jealous, but I live in an area with zero emissions testing. Which is good because my pickup blew an ungodly amount of oil for a year until the engine gave out and I had to replace it and my wife’s car has an exhaust leak in front of the catalytic converter I haven’t tried to patch yet and it also runs rich (I believe new 02 sensors may actually fix it, unfortunately that’s like $200 on a volvo.)

        I believe in the 4 urban counties in WA it is still just a sniff test, which I have read they can pass with a properly functioning weber. A lot of people also put on a new intake manifold (A pace setter I believe it’s called.) There are different levels people modify them after putting a weber carb on, but many of the hoses will simply no longer go anywhere.

        How would I be able to tell if my distributor uses the ECU? The only thing that runs from the distributor is the ignition coil plug and one vacuum hose (which runs back to the carb. It appears to be a very basic system where it just turns clockwise and sparks I don’t know what the ECU would regulate. I believe I read it only does ABS and emissions. It’s too early of a model for a code reader, it just has the blinking check engine light system.

        And just for anyone who is wondering, the idea that my carb/air intake system is too damn complicated is not just in my head, check this out

        http://www.mazdatrucking.com/B2200/Vacuum.html

  4. RJ
    October 13, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Hi –

    I just started to read your blog recently (got tuned into it from LRC) and enjoyed your recent “best of” review of the 2015 cars.

    I also read your recent article about the new, federally mandated “car black box” gps trackers (sorry – forgot the actual car-guy abbreviation for them) that the DOT is starting to mandate in all new cars. The thought of “big brotha/sista” tracking my every move, sending me tickets, charging me by the mile or (worst yet) driving my car for me just totally sickens me.

    So my questions are: Is there any 2015 car/truck out there that DOES NOT have one of these devices? If they do all have them, can they be removed and still be functional vehicles? When is the last model year that cars/trucks were not fitted with these things?

    I like some of the new fuel-efficient cars coming out (like the Honda Fit or one of the many new 3-cylinders) but don’t want to shell out $20K plus to be tracked, controlled and taxed!

    v/r

    RJ

    P.S. You mentioned that you think that someday the government will ban ALL old cars from the “public” (sarc) roads that don’t have one of these spy devices “retrofitted” into them – very likely accurate given the exponential growth of the nanny state! I would just say this: God willing, I never live to see that day!

    • eric
      October 13, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      Hi RJ,

      I’ll need to root around to be certain but I doubt any major automaker currently sells a vehicle without an EDR.

      I know for certain that EDRs have been de facto standard equipment in all GM vehicles since the mid-1990s. They are also installed in all the major German brand cars, including Porsche, Volvos as well as Lexus and Toyota vehicles. I am pretty sure Ford and Chrysler install them, too – and have been doing so for several years.

      I am not certain about: Honda/Acura, Mitsubishi, Subaru and some of the smaller Japanese brands. But I am betting yes.

  5. Motorist
    October 6, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Eric:

    Here’s today’s Agenda 21 update:

    Car insurance is becoming unaffordable for low-income drivers: study

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2014/1006/Car-insurance-is-becoming-unaffordable-for-low-income-drivers-study

    We must recognize that it’s not cars they’re principally after; it’s unfettered personal autonomy and mobility.

    Notice that the urbanists never champion scooters 125cc, and under, though such vehicles get over 60mpg. Scooters allow people to avoid the control scheme being deployed. If you have a scooter, what need have you of the light rail and bus line they want to to use?

    • eric
      October 6, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Exactly so, Motorist…

      The object is make autonomous motorized movement an unpleasant (and expensive) burden. They are open about this, many of them (the Agenda 21 crowd).

      We must look these monsters in the eye – for that’s indeed what they are. Monsters – in human form.

      • Jean
        October 6, 2014 at 4:20 pm

        Look ‘em in the eye, and plant an axe in their forehead.
        Problem solved (start: Reolution cycle of next problem.)

        Side note: Need lots of axes, and something to kill security cameras… :-P

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hatchetman.png :-D

    • October 6, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      Scooters. Good one. I already have ideas along those lines to use to further point out the anti-driving nature of progressive bicycle and transit politics.

      I’ve been arguing that it’s an anti-mobility agenda behind it all for a while now. It is certainly agenda 21 related, but it is also desired independently of agenda 21. These useful idiots can’t understand that once driving is done for for the lower and middle classes bicycling will be attacked next, probably under some health care edict of ‘risk’ and then transit will be cut back, and cut back, and cut back until all it can do is get them to their job in the system and that’s it.

      • Jean
        October 7, 2014 at 7:41 am

        Brent,
        I doubt it’s that altruistic.
        The objective will be to make the cube an efficiency. You’ll be born into a company on Floor 23, collected by the Delivery boy, brought to the Corporate Day Care, taught all you need to know to do the role assigned to you, and then sent back up to your assigned cube, to live, work, sleep, play, {Scratch that, playing during corporate times is stealing from the company}, and eventually – you’ll die, be recycled into Soylent Peuce for the other workers to eat in their lunchtime gelatinous mystery meat.

        Think of those tiny apartments, with the bed over the door, and take out the door – make it a desk; and then pair male and female proles across the cubetop beds…

        :-P

        • eric
          October 7, 2014 at 7:56 am

          Yup – you can see a prequel in Japan.

  6. Mike in Boston
    October 4, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Have been reading about Evans waterless coolant and was wondering if anyone here has any experience with it. Will be putting it in a 10 year old Corolla if I do it, is it worth it to prolong and older car’s life or is it too late by now and best used in a new engine? I want to keep my Big Brotherless car running as long as possible, any advice would be appreciated.
    Thanks in advance to all.

  7. Gregory
    September 21, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Question :

    Hello Eric !

    I heard you speak on the Tom Woods Show and decided to contact you.
    6 years ago I leased my Acura TL from Dallas Acura dealer. This was the first time I leased a vehicle.
    After 3 year lease, I bought the car. I paid taxes when I leased and when I bought the car, which surprised me, as I was expecting to pay taxes only once.
    Acura just came out with 2015 TLX (TL’s replacement) , and I’m thinking of leasing it as well, but I will not do so if I’ll get taxed twice.
    Is there a way to lease a car and avoid this double taxation ?

    Also, when do you plan to review 2015 Acura TLX ?

    • eric
      September 22, 2014 at 5:46 am

      Hi Gregory,

      Taxes on vehicles vary from state to state (and even locality to locality). Here in Virginia, for example, we have this obnoxious annual (perpetual) “property tax” on vehicles. Yup. You pay a special tax every year, just for the privilege of “owning” a vehicle – even if you paid it off years ago.

      The bottom line is, if Texas has taxes on the books you’ll be forced to pay them. The dealer is just the agent of the state, collecting the taxes. The thing to do is check whether, in fact, it is is a tax – or a fee. The dealer (lessor) may simply be adding charges to your tab. This is pretty common – and of course, if so, it is negotiable. You do not have to pay (as an example) “additional dealer markup” (yes, they actually call it that). You can haggle. With cars, everything that is not mandated by the government remains negotiable. And you can negotiate lease costs just as you would sales costs.

      I haven’t had the ’15 TLX yet but anticipate getting one within the next two months.

      Welcome to EPautos, by the way!

  8. Mari Jackson
    September 20, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Looking for information on reliability and long term cost of ownership for cars made in China.

    My wife and I have retired to Chile and are looking at buying a ‘city car’.

    In this URL http://www.cualauto.cl/nuevos/citycar , you will notice that most of them are made in China.

    Do you know of any real statistics on the reliability of Chinese cars?

    Thanks.

    • eric
      September 20, 2014 at 11:28 am

      Hi Mari,

      I have no direct experience with Chinese-built cars as they are not (yet) available in the U.S. My guess would be that they are probably equivalent (in terms of build quality, etc.) to ’80s/early ’90s-era cars. That is, overall, pretty good.

      But I would not be surprised if some were also pretty bad.

      As always, it’s important to research the particular vehicle you’re interested in – and then proceed with caution.

  9. September 20, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Blind Side “Inspirational Scene”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVbSQpoFDb0

    This is some kind of positive African agenda movie. And I think there’s a second hidden agenda, that’s bragging it can take anyone and make them anything. The PTB have that power. (And I think they do, but at what cost to others, I’d ask.)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVbSQpoFDb0

    Now for the other side of the spectrum. Have tickets to see this today. This is some kind of negative African agenda movie. I’ve personally been around these kind of “malignant narcissists” type ghetto black men. The ones in the south are different than the ones in the north and the big midwestern cities.

    But both south and north urban blacks are formidable, and not likely to be confused with the offspring of Austrian or Japanese wealthy intellectuals. You’d want to be conscious of how they differ from these other more cerebral races. Otherwise you might have a very bad day.
    http://grantland.com/hollywood-prospectus/no-good-deeds-movie-review/

    But some of this SCARY BLACK PRISON CONVICT movie is wrong. It is not the case that EVERY criminal will ALWAYS be a violent criminal. There is way more variability in nature than that. Without jails and cops.

    Some guy, let’s call him Leroy, will just wake up one day and not be violent anymore. He’s not a robot that has to keep on killing and being violent just because he was before. He’ll have his own unique epiphany. Or just get tired of it all and stop caring enough. Don’t let the problack PTB oversell the potential of Ghetto blacks. Or let the antiblack PTB undersell the potential of ghetto blacks.

    Generally as blacks age, these killer black types mellow out and maybe by age 50 they’re comparable to a 16 year old angry West Virginia rural scrapper lets say anecdotally.

    If I had to go to the ghetto and buy some crack or my kidnapped family would die. I’d find an old Cuban guy. The less black. The older the better. You’re less likely to have problems from these guys as they age. And as they’re less “Africanized” as they say. If they know only spanish and no English or Ebonics is known, they’re probably still immersed in there less violent Catholic Culture, even if pigmentally black. Black doesn’t just mean melanocytes. But a basket of traits we all know and take caution around for good reason.

    There’s without doubt a gang of PTB that have an interest in mainstreaming all these blacks without delay.

    Idris’ father, [he’s the guy in No Good Deed] Winston, was a Sierra Leonean who worked at a Ford motor factory, and his mother, Eve, was a Ghanaian who had a clerical job.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKUj4tgpwm0

    Good old BBC. Notice the metrosexed whitish male high pitched singers. Faces shaved. Skin washed, shampooed. Docile. Mild. Perfumed and deoderized. Passive. Obsequious. Nice and girly the way the PTB-BBC likes them to be.

    None of this for PTB-BBC-B class blacks from the British African colonies. Well spoken. Doesn’t tinkle the ivories and preen for cameras. He gets to strut on the show. And still get to retain much of his masculinity. He won’t settle lots of issues with mere words. Nearly no blacks will. They resort to fists and more violent means of settling arguments.

    But there’s a secret undercurrent at work. That doesn’t want blacks to assimilate. It might be just as Fred Reed said. A gap that can’t be closed. Maybe even the PTBs can’t make Africans into Japanese. The divergence might be 100s of thousands or a few million years old now. It might be a really huge gap to close.

    But still in some bizarro earth without the restrictions we have here. This exact strain of genetics. This Idris Alba, can be made to approach any thing with in his genetic reach over time. Can he be bred to breed with gorillas. I don’t think so, no one has that level of knowledge yet.

    But Planet of the Apes might be possible. Or some parts anyway. [Also its interesting that the movies have little to nothing to do with the books. They are about a whole different agenda really. The PTB agenda, I would wager.]

    There’s a gang of PTB that have an interest in further Africanizing and Violence Selecting all these blacks without delay.

    – tl;dr. It’s not a simple case of choosing the right answer off the rack. The true answer is hidden from us. Maybe from everyone. The PTB have secret knowledge, but then are lacking in simple scientific discipline.

    The truth of blacks can be discovered by dispassionate trial and error. And observation. There’s a cost benefit of getting this truth. Maybe its not that important. But I think it’d be interesting to run some of these experiments with whoever is willing to voluntarily participate.

    And of course, you have to control for human intelligence. Secret agenda groups of power brokers, who profit from ignorance and fear. And from noone behaving rationally and using trial and error. Who sow seeds of discontent and chaos, and then have a heyday, pieces a few of the things they’ve broken and pretending to be heroes.

  10. September 18, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Greetings:

    I am looking for a pickup truck for under three grand, that will run good for a long time and if possible, a 1990 model. What do you recommend Mr. Peters?

    • eric
      September 18, 2014 at 11:04 am

      Hi Daniel,

      I own two older (2002 and 1998) Nissan Frontiers. Both have the four-cylinder engine and manual transmission; one’s a 4WD and the other’s 2WD. They are superb trucks and known to be durable and problem-free (the four cylinder models).

      I can personally recommend this truck. The last year for the compact-sized model was 2004, IIRC.

      The earlier (pre-’98s) are also a great choice.

      I have heard good things about its Toyota rival, the Tacoma (and also the T100).. as with the Nissan Frontier, you can “older” – into the ’80s – and the trucks are still tough little dudes that seem to be unkillable. Rust is their chief enemy, though.

      In a full-size truck, the older Ford F-150s with the 5.0 liter (302) and 5.8 liter (351) V-8s and also the straight six are well-regarded.

      The GM trucks from the same era are pretty good also.

      • September 19, 2014 at 3:19 pm

        Mr. Peters:

        I appreciate you taking time to answer my question.

        Now that I know what model pickups to look for in accordance with my budget, my next question is how do I go about it without getting into a car loan? To unpack this question more, I have a 2000 impala I want to get rid of and use the money towards a pickup, also the IRS owes me my tax return from April, which is another topic altogether (has anyone else not receive their tax return yet?)

        If I confused you, I can rephrase.

  11. Phillip the Bruce
    September 18, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Eric – my wife is saying she want to replace our minivan (Grand Caravan) with a full-size van. Have you reviewed any of them, or have an opinion? I’m especially curious about the ‘high’ vans, Sprinter, e.g.

    • eric
      September 18, 2014 at 11:08 am

      Hi Phillip,

      The full-size vans have their pros – and cons.

      The pros include being generally heavier-duty, capable of carrying (and pulling) more.

      The cons include poor gas mileage and clunky handling.

      The Sprinter is pretty neat in that it can be configured in an almost infinite variety of ways, to suit your particular needs. It can be a stripped-down freight hauler… or it can be an opulent RV.

      I’d definitely take a look and see what the possibilities are…

    • September 18, 2014 at 11:11 am

      Dear PTB,
      I was on a series of larks the other day. Ended up writing this article for the forum, still in a holding pattern somewhere in the skunk works – ready to take off if approved – but for now in pending status:

      Spotlight On Commenter – Phillip the Bruce

      To give you an idea of the quality of writing here at Libertarian Car Guy, here is a selection of writing by a single forum member – Phillip the Bruce:

      I will NOT pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, for there is no longer a republic for which it stands. Forget the red herring of “under God,” which was added later.

      And on it continues listing your comments I thought were interesting for a total of 2,024 words.

      It concludes in the following fashion:

      Now isn’t that some impressive and valuable writing well worth your time?

      If you value this alternative to the mainstream media, please help support these important and unique independent voices. If you prefer to avoid PayPal, instead of clicking the donate button, send your payment via snail mail to the following address:

      EPautos
      721 Hummingbird Lane SE
      Copper Hill, VA 24079

      http://ericpetersautos.com/?p=33464&preview=true&preview_id=33464&preview_nonce=ee2e3d2539&post_format=status

      I was just messing around as I tend to do, to prove something to my own satisfaction, I decided to run a query of comments containing “Phillip the Bruce”, and then reproducing the ones I deemed best in class in standalone form.

      • Phillip the Bruce
        September 19, 2014 at 1:34 pm

        Tor – I’m not sure whether to feel honored or frightened, that you singled me out or this.

        • September 19, 2014 at 5:57 pm

          Sorry, used wrong case when typing your initials. Yeaaaah. Definitely the wrong case. You’re the PtB that be of course.

          I’ll just delete it. Yeah Tor will definitely delete it. I’ll write it in my notebook so I remember to do it.

          My wife says I’m some species of autistic or something. Yeah ball breaker. Definitely a ball breaker. Eric Babbit. A-number-one blogger. Course Eric lets me drive slow on the driveway. But not on Friday, definitely not on Friday. It’s a 1949 Buick Roadmaster. Straight 8. Fireball 8. Only 8,985 production models.

          ‘Course, three minutes to Kardashians. Number eighteen in 1988, Eric Peters Babbitt squeezed and pulled and hurt my neck in 1988. I get my boxer shorts at K-Mart in North Las Vegas. K-Mart sucks. QANTAS. QANTAS never crashed.

          Definitely watch Lew Rockwell Freedom TV but I have to be in bed at eleven. Lights out at eleven. 97X, bam! The future of rock ‘n’ roll. 97X, bam! The future of rock ‘n’ roll. 97X, bam! The future of rock ‘n’ roll.

          Do you know how much one of those new compact cars costs? I’d guess about a hundred dollars. Eric says: Tor, you’re never gonna solve it. It’s not a riddle because Who *is* on first base. That’s a joke, Tor, it’s comedy, but when you do it you’re not funny. You’re like the comedy of Abbott and Abbott.

          Monday night is Italian night. Yeah, I got $3,000,000 but I didn’t get the rose bushes. Eric got the rose bushes. He definitely got the rose bushes. Those are rose bushes!

          ‘Course I got Jeopardy! at three o’clock. I watch Jeopardy! Have to get to K-Mart. 400 Ochoa Street. The sign said ‘Don’t Walk’. Have you ever been to K-Mart. In movies they mention K-Mart because that’s called product placement. It’s a marketing technique to help fund expensive movies. Marketing. Definitely marketing.

          Every movie has lots of products. Guns. Cars. Nice clothes. A plot where you take an eidetic mathematic savant to Vegas and hit the blackjack tables. All the time in movies the protagonist goes to Vegas because the convention center here will pay any movie maker who mentions Vegas in their movie. Yeah. Definitely pay them.

          Are you taking any prescription medication? Wheel Of Fortune. Look at the studio filled with glamorous merchandise. Fabulous and exciting bonus prizes. Thousands of dollars in cash. Over $150,000 just waiting to be won as we present our big bonanza of cash on Wheel Of Fortune.

          Friday is fish sticks. Green lime jello for dessert. Course in 1986 46,400 male drivers were definitely involved in fatal accidents. E-R-I-C P-E-T-E-R-S, my main man.

          • Phillip the Bruce
            September 20, 2014 at 7:36 am

            Definitely, definitely!

      • Phillip the Bruce
        September 19, 2014 at 2:31 pm

        Just don’t get “PTB” confused with “TPTB”

  12. September 17, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Eric,

    Question concerning tire size. Positives/Negative points of owning and using larger rimed & lower profile tire compared to smaller rimmed tires with larger profile.

    (ie a 15″ wheel with a 60-70 profile vs a 17″ wheel with a 40-50 profile)

    Assuming that the different tire sizes fit and work with the car in question:

    I think that

    A smaller diameter, larger profile tire is:

    • less expensive
    • more comfortable (cushioned) ride
    • lighter (both tire and rim) — in general not counting light weight alloy rims
    • more difficult to damage
    • less costly to fix or replace if damaged

    compared to a larger diameter, smaller profile tire.

    A larger diameter, smaller profile tire is:

    • better handling

    compared to a smaller diameter, larger profile tire.

    Do the larger diameter, lower profile tire brake better than the smaller diameter, higher profile tire?

    Is there any other benefit of larger diameter, lower profile tires over smaller diameter, higher profile tires?

    Is there something else that I am missing in comparing different sized rims and corresponding tire profiles.

    Thanks for the input.

    • eric
      September 18, 2014 at 5:36 am

      Hi Mith,

      You have it sewed up pretty well!

      Short sidewall tires provide sharper steering response and handling, but they also tend to ride rougher. This is why you’ll see shorter-sidewall tires on sporty cars – although even today’s standard-type tires often have comparatively short sidewalls compared with what was typical in the past.

      Braking: The short-sidewall tires are usually also a more aggressive (“sport”) compound and tend to have a wider contact patch… which of course will improve braking performance. But, the “sport” compound tires also tend to wear faster…. and so, last not as long.

      One other thing: Unsprung mass/rolling resistance.

      A car fitted with 20 inch rims and tires will have more of both (probably, assuming similar alloy material, etc.) and this has an effect on handling/acceleration/fuel economy/performance.

  13. steve zimmett
    September 9, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    I got your email today regarding the Mazda Miata. You claim that more than a handful of snow days each winter – a Miata might not be a good choice. I found some videos on You tube that would question this??

    SAM PAYNE

    On Driving A Miata In Winter

    http://sampayne.kinja.com/on-driving-a-miata-in-winter-1492681674

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKKS3WJckGk

    • eric
      September 9, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      Hi Steve,

      The Miata – like any rear-drive/low-riding sports car – is not set up optimally for snow-day driving. That doesn’t mean you can’t drive it in the snow. Heck, you can do anything you want to. It just means your chances of getting stuck (or worse) are greater. (Just as you’d be more likely to get into difficulty taking a Corvette off-road rather an a 4WD truck.)

      The car will ride up on top of the snow (due to the ground clearance) and this will reduce the already less-than-great traction you’ve got to work with. Being RWD, the car does not have the traction advantage of pulling rather than pushing (as well as not having the weight of the drivetrain over the drive wheels).

      Good winter tires will help – just as it would help the handling of a 4WD truck to fit it with “sport” rather than M/S tires.

      But if you want a good snow car, a Miata’s not what you want.

      • steve zimmett
        September 9, 2014 at 10:49 pm

        Eric: If you watched the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKKS3WJckGk
        he seems to know what he is talking about. The car is small low to the ground, you are in control, he speaks of back ice, breaking system shines with anti-lock brakes, nose always stays straight ahead, weight balance helps on the snow to, equally light in the back as it is in the front a 50 50 weight distribution, he claims perfect balance which is easy to control, limited slip differential. He goes on and on.
        So why wouldn’t this car work in snow?? Thanks again Steve Zimmett

        • eric
          September 10, 2014 at 5:51 am

          Hi Steve,

          My teeth are starting to hurt.

          Look: A really good driver probably could get a Corvette (or Miata) through a snowstorm (or at least, go farther in a snowstorm before he ends up stuck) than a Clover in a 4×4.

          The skill of the driver is a huge factor.

          But this does not obviate the fact that the Miata – being a sports car, being rear-wheel-drive, having not much ground clearance – is inherently at a disadvantage for driving in the snow. Just as 4×4 truck is inherently at a disadvantage for high-speed cornering work due to its higher center of gravity and so on.

          Good luck to you, if you decide to take a Miata out with four or five inches of snow on the road.

  14. August 13, 2014 at 9:16 am

    that’s a wicked pissah he got bagged by a taxachusetts statie

    as long as one violates THEIR rules, and doesnt aggress, I am for him. aint nobody got the hi hosey monopoly on making their cars look official no suh

    the Maserati’s police-style shield decorations said “Decepticons punish and enslave,” rather than the usual police motto “protect and serve.”

    under agorism, anyone has the right to protect and serve, and do all other free market even if retahded things, if that is what one wishes to do

    article on wicked local
    http://braintree.wickedlocal.com/article/20140812/NEWS/140819360

  15. Turd Burglestein
    August 13, 2014 at 8:34 am

    A fucking clover in trouble with the law…I love it.

    In the article this asshole driver said this to the cop:

    Foster said the driver told Holt that he believed he was assisting the police “because other drivers noticed him and slowed down, thinking it was a police vehicle.”

    http://www.patriotledger.com/article/20140812/NEWS/140819360

  16. Damon
    August 8, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Hi Eric:

    I found your site a few years ago via the reposts at Lewrockwell.com and I really enjoy your writings.

    Anyways, I’ve lately been looking around at buying a pickup truck and saw that the 2015 F150s will have an aluminum body to save about 700 lbs of weight. Since I live in snow country and drive through salt all winter, the idea of a body that never rusts is very appealing to me.

    My question is what is your opinion on the conventional wisdom that you shouldn’t buy the first model year of a new vehicle or first year of a major redesign? The story goes that the engineers need a couple years’ worth of data to learn the shortcomings of the new model and then fix it. In your opinion is this a valid concern, even for a model as old as the F150?

    By the way, when I buy vehicles, I run them into the ground — I don’t trade up every few years the way a lot of people do. My 2000 Cherokee has 250,000 miles but I’m putting $200-300 in repairs into it every month and I want to get a V8 before Obama bans them.

    • eric
      August 8, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      Hi Damon,

      I think it’s sound policy to avoid the first year of anything that’s “all new” – let alone an all-new technology or process.

      An aluminum body – to save weight especially – seems like a very good idea. I’d be less concerned about rust (with a steel body) because body integrity, rust inhibitors and paint application are generally so well done that most any new vehicle’s body will last longer than its drivetrain.

      PS: Ford has had some problems with the Ecoboost V-6 in the F-truck by the way.

  17. Mitch Skov
    August 1, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Mr. Peters,

    I have a 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme which I have had since 1990. It has 180,000 + miles on it – the original engine. My current mechanic indicates that it needs a rebuilt engine installed to really fix the issues. The primary problem at the moment is keeping proper oil pressure. It was addressed temporarily by putting heavier oil into it, but that no longer seems to work. I asked why not just put in a new oil pump, but he indicated that would just solve the immediate problem and the general wear on the engine would present more problems in the near future.

    I consulted with a couple other mechanics and they indicated this was likely true, though they aren’t familiar with the car.

    The car’s body is in good shape given its age – only real rust is on the front fender. Mechanic indicated that installing a rebuilt engine would be in the $3,000-3,100 range. I have a newer car that is now my major vehicle. Neither car gets driven daily but the Olds has now been sitting for months. FYI I had a rebuilt transmission put into the Olds around 2005 and haven’t had any problems with the transmission since.

    As for driving it, the only real irritant with that is the carburetor, I tend to have a problem with the engine sputtering and acting like it is going to stall at traffic lights. Yes, I have had the carburetor rebuilt, adjusted, etc. but this just seems to now be a constant even after the car is warmed up.

    I do have somewhat of an attachment to the Olds but am concerned about getting in an accident after the engine rebuild and the auto insurance company totaling it and giving me a few hundred dollars, or whatever book value might be at the time.

    Any suggestions? I realize it depends on how much I like the car. There is something to be said for having a car w/o a computer.

    Thank you for your site and its very helpful information. I typically see your articles on another website but go to your site to read them in total.

    • eric
      August 1, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      Hi Mitch,

      To answer this intelligently, one would need to know the overall mechanical condition of the engine, in particular, whether the compression in each of the engine’s cylinders is within specifications. If the piston rings are worn (or valve seals are bad) the engine will consume a progressively increasing quantity of oil and replacing the oil pump will not salve the problem.

      The good news is the cost to properly rebuild the engine is reasonable – and in line with what your mechanic quoted. If the car itself is in good condition, putting $3k or so into it strikes me as worth doing, given that the car ought to be good to go for many years to come once that’s done. And because it is a simple car – relative to anything “modern” – any future issues that crop up will be easier and much less expensive to deal with.

      Assuming you like the car, I’d recommend fixing it.

      Hope this helps!

  18. Daniel
    July 19, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Greetings Mr. Peters:

    I am looking for either a pickup or an RV style van that is old enough that I dont need to go through inspections which is 25 years in PA I believe and yet will take me where I need to go as far as I need to go. Please advise.

    • eric
      July 20, 2014 at 5:56 am

      Hi Daniel,

      The factor here is the age at which your state exempts the vehicle from inspections. You indicate it is 25 years in PA. This means 1989 and older vehicles. Which is great news – because by the mid-late 1980s, most vehicles already had the Big Two technical upgrades that – in my opinion – make a car “modern”:

      Fuel injection and overdrive transmissions.

      Fuel injection – especially the early throttle body type (vs. the current direct injection systems) is a great leap forward over carburetors in terms of driveability (in particular, cold start) and simplicity/ease of service.

      Overdrive transmissions, meanwhile, dramatically reduce highway cruise RPMs and thus, decrease wear and tear while also greatly increasing fuel efficiency.

      As to which model?

      I have always like the Ford E-Series van, but the GM equivalent is also good. Both of the vans from this era (mid-late ’80s) will have their respective manufacturer’s V-8s, which will be the proven designs that date from the late 1950s/early ’60s (and which remain in production to this day, even if only as service replacement “crate” engines). The “small block” Chevy (350, 5.7 liter) and Ford (302/351), etc. These engines are inexpensive, easy to fix – and parts are readily available and probably will be for the foreseeable future.

      The GM van may have the better transmission (GM turbo-hydramatic automatics are generally well-regarded, but watch out for some of the “duds” such as the early 2004R – an overdrive 4-speed automatic that wasn’t very strong, at least at first).

      The main thing, though, is not to fixate on brand – but on the best van you can buy for the money you’ve got. Condition matters most when it comes to used vehicles. Find a good one – well-treated, lower miles, etc. – and you’ll have found the van for you.

      PS: A wild card, if you don’t mind something smaller: The VW camper wagon. I think they even made a diesel version during this time period.

  19. Herb
    June 19, 2014 at 7:47 am

    I was wondering how difficult it would be to convert from a gasoline engine to a diesel. I have a 2007 Honda Odyssey and a 2006 Scion XB. Both are paid off and have high mileage. Just your thoughts on the matter. I like the idea of diesel because of the higher mpg.

    • eric
      June 19, 2014 at 9:23 am

      Hi Herb,

      If the vehicle was originally available with a diesel, it’d be easier – but you’re still looking at a total drivetrain swap. And not just the drivetrain (engine and transmission). You will also need to have the entire fuel system purged and probably several components replaced.

      Diesel engines also weigh considerably more than gas engines, so it may be necessary to modify the front suspension. The final drive ratio may have to be changed – possibly, the axle itself if it’s not able to handle the torque output of the diesel.

      Bottom line: It’d be a challenge and unless you can do most of the work yourself, it will be expensive, too.

      Better to just buy a diesel-powered vehicle, ideally an older one without the current emissions stuff, which will have the ability to operate on waste vegetable oil/bio-diesel.

  20. DR
    June 7, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Bill Buppert, Zerogov, on D-Day.

    Good stuff here.

    http://zerogov.com/?p=3453

  21. May 22, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Eric, are you aware of this? http://flyoverpress.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/alpine-texas-bold-witness-to-alleged-abuse-by-federal-agents-comes-forward/

    We need all the help we can get out here on “America’s last frontier.” Sigh…

  22. Ron
    May 21, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    HI-=- Please help. My daughter has purchased a 1968 vw. Her husband has not been able to get all the air out of the right rear line. All other lines are clear. this line spits out a short stream of fluid than air then fluid. Has replaced all wheel cylinders, and master cylinder. Much of the lines. No notice of wet spots or leaks. Very frustrated at this point. Looked at your videos, not sure what to do next. Not sure about the 10 times per pedal.???

  23. May 15, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    What do you know about the car called: Tesla and a guy named J. B. Straubel? What about Operation BlueStar?

    If you don’t know of this car you should. You may have addressed it so sorry if you have.

  24. George
    May 7, 2014 at 9:08 am

    2002 Subaru Forester 160,000 miles driven in Pennsylvania and New York. Mechanic says the catalytic converter needs to be replaced after engine light came on.

    I am wondering, given the age of the car, if I should just replace the whole exhaust system in one shot?

    Any thoughts on Subaru vs Generic parts?

    Any thoughts on Dealer vs National Chain vs local service?

    • eric
      May 7, 2014 at 9:19 am

      Hi George,

      Why replace more than needs to be replaced? If the exhaust pipe/muffler are ok, why throw them away?

      I would be careful to use at least an original equipment equivalent (OEM) converter designed for your specific car – as opposed to a “generic” that may not flow as well or in some other way not be optimized for your particular car. The function of the cat will greatly affect vehicle performance – and economy.

      On service: Some dealers are great; others not-so-great. Same applies to national chains (and local shops). I strongly recommend “due diligence” before taking your car to any shop. With the Internet, it’s usually easy to check a shop’s reputation – not just Better Business Bureau-wise, but also customer complaint-wise. People who’ve had bad experiences often post ‘em – publicly.

      Also, ask around: Getting a recommend from someone you trust – who has good judgment – and who has had good experiences with a given shop – is a great way to find a solid (honest/competent) mechanic/shop.

      • george
        May 7, 2014 at 11:47 am

        My thinking was the exhaust pipe or muffler would be the next thing to go. So in the long run I would save time and money by getting the whole thing replaced in one shot.

        • eric
          May 7, 2014 at 12:40 pm

          Hi George,

          It depends…

          The muffler may be sound; ditto the exhaust pipes. If so, I’d leave them be.

  25. Jack
    April 22, 2014 at 9:19 am

    I heard about your blog through lewrockwell.com and I read your article http://ericpetersautos.com/2012/05/01/forget-hybrids-buy-a-cheapster/

    I got some questions for you.I got a 2000 chevy cavalier with 249,000 miles on it and i was wondering if the motor blew up and died would it be better to take it to someone and have them rebuild it or buy a rebuilt motor or buy another used vehicle like a used Geo Metro. My other question would be is who would i take it to rebuild the motor? How can i find out if a mechanic is good or not a doing it? Is there someone who specializes in rebuilding motors? What kind of warranty is there if any? Thanks for writing great articles and taking time to answer questions

    – Jack

    • eric
      April 22, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      Hi Jack,

      A new replacement engine would probably be less expensive in that the labor costs (the big hit) will be much lower. Literally pull the old engine, install the new one, hook everything up – and done. Rebuilding the original engine entails (if it’s a proper rebuild) complete disassembly of the engine, inspection of all parts, necessary machine work, then re-assembly. Very time consuming. Hence, expensive.

      I know GM sells new/warranted service replacement small block V-8s (“targetmaster”) for around $1,500. A replacement four cylinder engine for your Cavalier would hopefully be in the same ballpark.

      And: You’d have a new – and warranted – engine.

      With rebuilds, it’s very hit or miss. If the guy doing the work is good at what he does, uses quality parts, it can be hit. But if he’s not so good… or uses cheap parts… miss.

      One should be very specific/clear as regards the definition of “rebuild” before agreeing to anything. If it’s not a complete teardown, inspection/replacement of all worn parts, it’s not – by my definition – rebuilt. What parts will be used? Is there a guarantee?

      Etc.

  26. Peter
    April 13, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    I just bought a 2014 classic Prius. I would like to disable the seat belt beep on the driver’s side and also the back up beep. I tried some of the older techniques and they did not work. What is the protocol to removing these beeps on the 2014 Prius cars. Thank you . Peter

  27. Julius
    April 9, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Hello Eric,

    I drive a pickup simply because I like the room . I drove half ton Silverado’s for several years , 97, 2000, 2004. The ride was great but the heater control units needed frequent replacement and then in the 2004 after 3 heater control units the speedometer went out. I sold it and would like to buy another truck.

    What is the best riding truck, as I am in to comfort more than any hauling or towing concerns, and why does the mileage still suffer on pick ups? I don’t know if I want another Chevy…….

    Julius Adams

    • eric
      April 9, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      Hi Julius,

      A great deal depends on the suspension of the truck in question – and that will depend on whether it’s a 4×4, or has “off-road” equipment (or not) . . . as well as tires (critical) . . with M&S-rated tires often giving a not-so-great ride (with the trade-off being they’re good in the snow, mud, etc.). Also avoid 19/20-inch wheels (very popular now) with short sidewall tires. The ride tends to be stiff and bouncy.

      That said, any of the new 1500s are proverbial Cadillacs compared with what trucks were like even as recently as 10 years ago. Chevy, Ford and Chrysler have worked near-miracles in this regard.

      But, because there are several entirely subjective variables in play – the big one being how the seats feel to you – my advice would be to test drive each one for a minimum of one hour, with at least half that time driving on not-so-great roads.

      I personally prefer the ride of the current F-150. But the truck I personally would buy (of the Big Three) is the Chevy/GMC – because I am not a fan of the Ford’s over-elaborate multi-turbo “EcoBoost” V-6 and don’t trust it for the long haul. The Chevy’s OHV V-8s are bulletproof – and GM’s automatic transmissions are the best in the (light-duty truck) business.

      Chrysler (Ram) trucks are appealing on a number of levels… except for the not-so-great quality/reliability of recent Chrysler products.

      If you’re potentially interested in a smaller truck, the Toyota Tacoma is outstanding. The Tundra is a good truck, too – especially the updated 2014 model. The only weakness of this truck – in terms of objective stuff – is the relatively limited configuration (bed/cab) options available.

      Hope this is helpful!

  28. April 7, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Issue: No Speedometer/short in ABS system/won’t shift out of 1st gear-Brake fuse blows upon insertion

    History:
    I purchased a 94 Chevy G30 6.5 Diesel (Vin Y) cargo van with 4l80E transmission for the purpose of building out a nice conversion van. At the time I bought it, it was running well mechanically but needed a lot of attention to suspension. I proceeded to do my interior build which included hardwood floor, paneleing, DC inverter, custom lighting, etc… I did have to drill the floor with sheet metal screws, but was very careful to check underneath before drilling to ensure I wasn’t going to hit any wiring harnesses or other lines. When I was drilling the new holes for front seats, I did nick one of the hard brake lines and also hit one of the 8 ga wires that runs all the way to the trailer hitch which I assume is for the trailer brakes. I did appropriate repairs with a hydraulic compression fitting to the brake line and used crimp on butt connector to repair the single wire.

    Problem:
    Now the van has no speedometer, will not shift out of 1st gear, and the ABS light is lit up.

    Troubleshooting I have done:
    After checking some forums, I tried replacing the 2 speed sensors on the 4L80E transmission. Both input and output sensors have been replaced with no effect. While I was under the van, I examined the transmission wiring harness and the 2 pigtails for the speed sensors. Everything looked good. I spent about an hour crawling up and down both sides of the body looking for any potential place where I could have hit a wiring harness with a sheet metal screw and I don’t see any harness that goes towards the back other than the bundle that runs down the passenger side to the trailer hitch which doesn’t have any damage.

    I checked the fuse block and have discovered that the fuse labeled “Brake” is blowing immediately. This circuit controls the ABS system and the speedometer. I pulled the cover under steering column off to get better working access and have pulled the fuse panel partially out and have determined that the red wire with white stripe is the power to this circuit. I cannot see where this wire goes other than farther up into the dash area. I opened up the split-tubing where all the wiring comes through the firewall by the battery and I don’t see a wire of that color coming out. I also looked where the computer box under the driver seat is and don’t see this wire there either.

    Yesterday I hooked up my buddy’s Snap On Modis ODB1 code reader and the diesel engine has no ECM, but I was able to communicate to the transmission and there were no codes or faults reported. There is a special connector for communicating with the ABS that involved hooking a green wire to pin H and a black wire to pin A. When I connected to the ABS as specified, I am getting a No Communication error. There is supposed to be positive voltage coming through pin H which there isn’t which I can assume is because there is no power to the ABS system because of the blowing fuse problem I discovered.

    Does anyone know if there is an ABS computer control box stuffed up somewhere underneath the dashboard that I haven’t seen yet? The only other object I’ve seen is a small white box mounted above the parking brake which has 2 small harnesses connected to it, but I think this is for the airbag system. Also my other thought was perhaps I had a bad relay somewhere, but I do not see any relay block either underneath the hood or under the dash.

    Honestly at this point, I am lost and other than removing the rest of dash and physically tracing this wire throughout the vehicle I don’t know what else to look for at this point. My friend who’s Modis box I borrowed has 20 yrs experience and is ASE certified and he’s not sure what to look for either. He says something has to be shorted or grounded out somewhere and once we find the source of this that everything will likely clear up. He too looked underneath the vehicle and didn’t see any place where wiring looked damaged and also said that my repairs to the hydraulic line and the 8 ga wire running to the trailer brake connector was goodDoes anyone have any suggestions on what could be causing this fuse to blow or know the path of this wire? I don’t see any possible place where I could have damaged any wiring unless there is a hidden bundle that is actually inside of one of the frame rails running the length of the vehicle, which wouldn’t make sense to place one there as it would not be serviceable.

  29. Vlad
    April 3, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Looking for a used mid to large SUV for the wife. Any thoughts on the KIA Borrego or any recomendations or ones to stay clear of?

    • eric
      April 3, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      Hi Vlad,

      Kia (like Hyundai) had some early teething pains – and quality/reliability issues. But the current stuff is all pretty impressive (and superbly warranted). The Borrego only lasted one model year (2009) and while I’ve not heard anything bad about it, I’d steer you toward something along the lines of the Nissan Pathfinder or Toyota 4Runner, if you need a real 4×4 SUV.

      Buying a one-year-only model has its pros – and its cons. The potential pros (assuming it’s a basically ok vehicle that just didn’t sell well for whatever reason, as in the case of the Borrego) is that you are likely to get a good deal on one because it’s not popular and they depreciate fast. Cons include likely parts availability issues (body and trim especially) and… depreciation.

      If an AWD crossover will do, there are a number of good choices – including the new Jeep Cherokee I just finished reviewing. You might also want to check out the Hyundai Sante Fe (either the smaller Sport version or the larger V-6 version) as well as its Kia cousin. There’s also the perennial favorites: The Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

      Here’s a wild card: Honda Ridgeline. Yes, it’s technically (kind of) a truck. But it’s more like mix of truck and crossover SUV. It’s pretty versatile and capable – and a good vehicle, in terms of reliability. People love it. Honda just discontinued it, but they’ve been out for years and it ought to be easy to find a good used one….

      Hope this helps!

  30. January 7, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    I have read countless of your articles through LewRockwell.com and enjoyed all of them. I recently decided to attempt to start writing about various causes, and the first issue I took up was elimination of most traffic laws.

    You can read my article at http://walljared.wordpress.com/, but to summarize I make the argument that a crime is not a crime unless there is a victim. I’ve had some comments come back which I’ve been easily able to reply to, but got one today that made me think a little. I’ll post it here:

    “Well-written, interesting read. One thing I wanted to bring up. I was wondering if you had considered the “scared straight” effect a traffic stop can have on a young adult.

    I was pulled over when I was 17 because I was driving too fast. Before that day, I approached driving in a much more careless fashion than I currently do. That is partly due to being more mature but also because I got a reality check that day. I’m lucky my reality check came in the form of a police officer and not a major collision. I imagine that there are countless others in the same boat.

    You could argue that it is a parent’s responsibility to raise their children to drive safely, but we all know what it was like to be a rebellious teenager. I think an abolishment of traffic stops would increase the number of victims, which is the most important number. What do you think?”

    I still don’t think this warrants punishing innocent people who haven’t committed a crime, but I wanted to know… how would you respond to this?

    Thanks!

    Jared

    • eric
      January 8, 2014 at 7:13 am

      Hi Jared,

      The premise is a false one.

      What is the premise?

      That only the state and its agents can inculcate a sense of responsibility in people.

      In fact, it’s the opposite.

      When people grow up knowing that they, personally, will be held accountable for the harm they cause, it “grows them up” a whole lot faster than our infantilized system of “obey the law” that does not encourage people to develop and exercise judgment.

      Consider: Has the quality of the driving of the average person out there become better – or worse – as a result of the system discouraging individual discretion, but instead insisting on rigid obedience to all traffic laws, simply because “it’s the law”?

      As far as “the number of victims” …

      Whatever harm the occasional reckless/irresponsible individual may do pales to insignificance compared with the body count racked up by government.

      How many millions of people languish in cages today in the US? Not for any harm they’ve caused to others but because they were convicted of some statutory offense entailing no victim – such as the statutes regarding arbitrarily illegal “drugs.”

      On a daily basis in this country, how many tens of thousands of people are waylaid at gunpoint by costumed thugs and threatened with lethal violence over non-crimes such as electing not to “buckle up” for safety?

      How many people have been murdered by this government – sent to fight in manufactured wars, from Vietnam to Iraq?

      You see the point.

      Welcome to the site, by the way – and thanks for the kind words!

      • Jared
        January 8, 2014 at 9:53 pm

        Thanks for the reply! Honing my ideas and being better able to articulate them is important to me, and you’ve definitely helped me with that.

        Thanks again

  31. LK587
    October 15, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    I have questions about what the British call tracking and what I think in the US is front wheel alignment. It seems like an ordinary person could at minimum do the testing.

    Is it worth checking your own alignment on a regular basis? Will you be able to detect small faults?

    Are products like these worth the money?
    http://www.trackace.co.uk/Videos.html
    http://www.gunson.co.uk/

    The string method is free, is it worth the effort?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjZUu_d08t8

    Informational site:
    http://www.caranddriver.com/features/get-in-line-do-it-yourself-wheel-alignment

    And finally, would you recommend ordinary people adjust their own tie rods (talk to your lawyer before answering)?

    • BrentP
      October 15, 2013 at 11:23 pm

      I do my own suspension/steering work. I have an old fashioned bar and indicator toe gauge which has worked well. I forget the brand, but it’s the kind of tool that has existed probably since the 1930s. For camber and caster I have a Fastrax Camber/Caster Gauge and some gauges from the early 60s/late 50s (which have a toe gauge that mounts to them) I got from my grandfather. The older ones are useless on most cars made after the 1970s. The real bonus was that I got turn tables. Those are expensive and required to set caster. (there are a number of cheap work arounds however)

      I aligned my 1997 mustang after a lot of suspension work. camber & caster. Toe stayed in spec, but I had to measure it. My mazda I just did toe on. Was it worth my time and effort money wise? Probably not. However I know how to do something myself now and I don’t have to go through dealing with a shop, which makes it worth it to me.

      That laser system just seems fancy… but I have my doubts on it’s accuracy given how it is used. Guess like any tool it would come down to trying it.

    • eric
      October 16, 2013 at 6:30 am

      Hi LK,

      Brent answered the technical side pretty well. I’d only add that checking alignment (or having it checked) periodically is smart policy in terms of tire longevity. Minor out-of-adjustment may not be noticeable in terms of how the vehicle tracks, even if it seems to track true and straight. But even minor out-of-adjustment can result in uneven/more rapid tire wear, as well as more/faster wear and tear on other suspension components.

      In my experience, FWD cars seem to be more easily thrown out of whack by such things as popping a curb – or hitting a bad pothole.

  32. Patrick
    December 4, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    I was at a car dealer last nite, in the financing office, talking a deal on a car. Finance lady said that they didn’t have agreements with banks for variable rate financings, that they only could offer fixed rates! Is that a bunch of b.s. likely, ie. to get me on a higher rate loan (ie. fixed rates are higher than variable)?

    • December 4, 2012 at 4:41 pm

      I have never heard of variable rate financing for a car loan. That doesn’t mean such deals don’t exist, of course – but it’s news to me.

      And why would you want to? Rates right now are at historic lows.

      • Patrick
        December 4, 2012 at 4:53 pm

        Interesting, well i’m in canada, and i was at another dealer talking a deal on a car (which i didn’t buy) and i was offered a variable rate financing. That’s why last nite, when she said they didn’t offer variable, it made be suspicious (thot she mite be lying). Ya, the historical low mite be an argument to get fixed anyways. And maybe the norms are difference in the US. I know regarding mortgages it is. You guys have 30 year fixed rate mortgages apparently. Here the longest term offered by banks for fixed-rate is 5 years i believe (some mite give 10 years i think,,at a higher rate of course). The norm tho here, is for 20-30 year mortgages, with the rate fixed for 5 years terms inside of it (thus the rate is renewed every 5 years).

  33. Tor Munkov
    November 27, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Single Mom in Chicago endures Financial Armageddon

    It’s hard to believe: http://jalopnik.com/5963313 but this ordinary woman has been railroaded into a financial holocaust state wealth concentration camp.

    It always happens right under the commoners noses, because always the black magicians change their tricks, and execute their black magic in some new unforseen way.

    Napolean, Lincoln, Bismarck, Stalin, Mao, Hussein. It’s never obvious until it’s far to late, and all you have to keep the wolves from your door and the mobs from pillaging your family is a few scraps of useless government paper.

    Six million Jews die quite unnoticeably when you spread it out over twelve years 1933-1945. A few million Germans die immediately after, and no one can afford to even count or keep score.

    It’s only homeless, druggies, domestically violent, paperwork scofflaws, extremists, who have to be rounded up and caged at public expense. In the next few years there will be over 80 million Americans with zero net worth if we go “Forward” the way we are now.

    Forward/Avanti was the slogan of Mussolini’s fascists. Then one of Hitler’s slogans, Now it is America’s slogan. McCain or Obama, Romney or Obama, Christie or Clinton, they’re all nickling, diming, dollaring, troy ouncing us into roadside ditches by the millions.

    Dig or Die they say. America needs you to pick up a shovel and dig deeper, faster, and harder. You are almost done now, the ditches are our trenches to keep our soldiers safe. Freedom isn’t entirely free anymore, remember what George W Bush said that has now come to define our nation:

    “America is no longer a place where people say ‘Do whatever feels good.’ After nineleven, America has a new motto and a new creed – ‘LETS ROLL’

    President Barack H, O. Bush is calling to us again to dig deeper the ditches, and to stand ready with our soldiers behind us as we line up and face the trenches. To proudly stand at. The edge of the fiscal cliff while our brave soldiers get in formation behind us. LET’S ROLL FORWARD! The Kuwaiti fireworks record will be broken. We will be witness to the greatest fireworks display of all time. Look up into the sky with shock and awe, thr fireworks are about to begin.

  34. Patrick
    November 18, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    I’m wondering how the two are measured exactly. For example, is front-seat legroom measured with its seat all the way back?
    And the back-seat legroom..it’s measured with the front-seats in what position?
    And with headroom, the driver seats in some cars can be raised and lowered…etc.

    What’s your analysis on this please?

    • November 18, 2012 at 9:25 pm

      Hi Patrick,

      Welcome, first of all – and, a thousand pardons for the recent hassles with posting. We had an epic week with server problems that ended up with us (well, Dom) moving the site to an entirely new server!

      Ok, on interior measurements: Technically, each automaker is supposed to follow SAE guidelines using an anatomical dummy that “sits’ in each seat. Measurements are then taken from the dummy’s hip point in relation to its surroundings. But there’s definitely variation in terms of real-world usable space (all else being equal) because – as an example – floorpans are shaped differently, car to car. One car may technically have more front seat legroom – but (as an example) the dead pedal/footrest to the left of the clutch/brake pedal may take up a fair amount of the actually usable space. A car with a differently shaped floorpan, dead pedal (or no dead pedal) may feel roomier.

      Seat shape/adjustment range is another variable that can really affect real-world room.

      I can tell you from 20-plus years of test driving and writing about new cars that the raw numbers only tell you so much. They are a good starting point, but to really know whether a given car will fit your body comfortably, you have to get your body into the car!

      • Patrick
        November 23, 2012 at 11:21 pm

        Hi Eric, just getting back to you. Thanks for the reply. So, regarding seat position tho,,,,from what seat position is legroom supposed to be measured? Is there an SAE standard for this?

        • November 24, 2012 at 1:09 pm

          Hi Patrick,

          From the hip point centerline. I’ve been trying to find a graphic to show exactly how it works. So far, no luck.

          • Patrick
            November 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm

            Eric, “hip point centerline” sounds to me like that’s a position on the dummy’s body?

            I’m wondering, what position the seat itself is in? Ie. for front-seat legroom, is the front seat all the way back? In the middle? All the way forward? etc.

          • Patrick
            November 27, 2012 at 1:13 am

            Any luck on finding the answer to this lol?

          • Patrick
            November 30, 2012 at 9:58 pm

            I guess nothing eh. Well, shoot me a line on here if you come across something. CHeers!

          • Patrick
            December 1, 2012 at 8:34 pm

            Haha, I ain’t paying no fee. I’m surprised the answer to this question is so hard to find. Wbu eric? I mean, ‘what position is the front-seat in for the measurement of front-legroom?’. Who woulda thot that would be so difficult to find an answer to lol!?
            Crazy!

            • December 1, 2012 at 9:50 pm

              Hi Patrick,

              SAE is one of those outfits that charges for its studies; I don’t have free access to them, either. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful!

          • Patrick
            December 1, 2012 at 9:57 pm

            Ya,,,,you must have a guess to the answer to my question eric lol? If so, what would you think answer is?

          • BrentP
            December 2, 2012 at 5:42 am

            Even as a paying member this stuff isn’t ‘free’. Just lower cost.

  35. Tinsley Grey Sammons
    November 1, 2012 at 12:58 pm
  36. Vedad
    October 6, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Hello,

    I’m a 23-year old who’s considering making my first car purchase. I know of your site via LewRockwell.com, where I have read many of your columns (which I enjoy greatly) and see you as an authority on automotive matters.
    To save you time, I’ll ask my questions first, then elaborate on the reasons behind them, if you feel like reading that:

    – Could you recommend some books or other material summarizing the things to consider when buying a (used) car, including long-term concerns such as re-saleability, maintenance costs, etc

    – Could you also recommend some specific cars to consider? I’m looking for an economical car which will cope well with low temperatures (I live in Norway). I don’t need any gadget-filled cars, though having an AC for summer would be nice. The car doesn’t have to have a rock-bottom price tag, as I imagine most of those would likely bring higher maintenance and fuel costs.

    – Lastly, could you please recommend any books on basic car maintenance, repairs which one can do on one’s own, best driving practices, etc.?

    My reasons are as follows:

    Since march, I’ve been borrowing my dad’s tired old Citroen Saxo for my daily commute, which is roughly 60km one way. The daily 120km trip is starting to show its wear and tear on it; first, it had trouble starting after rainy weather (we never figured out the reason), then the front right brake started getting troublesome, and now for the last week, the servo steering doesn’t always start until the car has been running for a minute or two. In short, this car doesn’t seem cut out for long-distance commutes. Furthermore, it feels wrong to be putting so much wear and tear on my dad’s car, for my own benefit. In short, I need to buy a car.

    It’s probably glaringly obvious that I’m no petrolhead (as Jeremy Clarkson calls them), so I hope you forgive my ignorance.

    Also, please don’t post my name if you decide to publish my question.


    Cordially,
    Vedad

    • October 6, 2012 at 5:03 pm

      Hi V,

      Well, let’s start with the obvious: How much money have you got to spend? This number will help narrow things down considerably.

      Since you’re 23 and a student, I’m going to assume you probably aren’t looking for a new car. At least, I hope not. Even if you have the means to afford new, it’s generally a bad move, financially speaking. A slightly used (3-4 years old) car will give you much better value. There’s very little downside – other than not having the “latest” thing.

      In general, I’d recommend budgeting about $7,000 or so (U.S.) which over here would get you into something along the lines of a 3-4 year-old Yaris or Corolla (and similar models) with relatively low miles (about 40-50k) and in overall very good cosmetic/mechanical shape. Almost any “name brand” compact economy-type car will probably be just fine for your purposes – which I’m assuming means solid, reliable, economical “A to B” transportation.

      Unfortunately, I’m not up on the cost of cars in Norway – you may have to spend more than you’d have to spend over here. Also, of course, you’ve got access to cars (and brands of cars) not even sold here, such as Citroen. I’m by no means an expert on European-model vehicles.

      But, the same general rules apply anywhere:

      Thoroughly research the make/model of vehicle you’re interested in. Check consumer guides for negative reports/feedback. Look into resale value (over here, this info is published in Automotive News and Consumer Reports, among other sources).

      Know what a fair price is for the car you’re interested in – with the equipment/features/options you’re interested in. Check classified ads in your area as well as used car value guides to get a feel for what that price should be.

      Take the car for an extended (1 hour, at least) test drive to make sure it suits you – and to look for any obvious problems or signs of potential trouble (such as, for instance, an overheating engine, transmission slipping, unusual noises, brake performance, etc.).

      If you’re serious about a particular car, have it checked by an independent mechanic you know to be competent and trustworthy. Do not buy any car the seller will not let you have checked out.

      Well, that’s for openers !

      • Vedad
        October 6, 2012 at 6:11 pm

        Many thanks for your quick reply!

        Cars in Norway tend to cost about twice of what they do in most of the rest of Europe (and, I assume, the western world), and importing one means having to pay the difference to the government, making it not worthwhile even trying. Ergo, the prices I mention are probably twice of what you would pay for any given car.

        I’m thinking of the 40-60000kr range, which translates roughly to $7-11000, well below your recommendation, considering the price disparity. Perhaps I should save for a while longer… (Note: I’m not a student any longer, though the way I wrote the post might’ve made it come across as such.)

        The amount of money I have to spend is quite small (most of my money goes to student loan repayment), though I can save – and possibly take up a loan, though that idea is distasteful to me. Notwithstanding that, I’m thinking that paying more up front and saving on maintenance and fuel down the road is probably a good idea, compared to going strictly with what’s within my current budget.

        I just quickly checked the price for Corollas and Yarises (using http://www.finn.no/finn/car/used/browse1 – Finn.no is the biggest classifieds site in Norway, the manufacturer list on that site can give you an idea of what is available here).

        For Corollas, cheaper 2006 models start around 80-90000kr, with 2009s around 170-190000kr. As for Yaris, 2006s go for 80-90000kr and 2009s for 100-120000kr. Perhaps I could stretch it and go for a 2006 of either model, but anything newer would leave me broke for years.

        As for the rest of your advice, it certainly seems sound, and I’ll do my best to follow it. I’ll also have my dad in on the process (experience), though I know he has a tendency to go for lower upfront costs, whereas I would rather go for lower long-term costs.

        Oh, and a quick by-the-way out of curiosity; where does the term clover come from? I know what you mean by it, but I don’t get the reference.


        Cordially,
        Vedad

    • Peter
      April 13, 2014 at 2:32 pm

      I just bought a 2014 classic Prius. I would like to disable the seat belt beep on the driver’s side and also the back up beep. I tried some of the older techniques and they did not work. What is the protocol to removing these beeps on the 2014 Prius cars. Thank you . Peter

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