OT - Talking Cars Tuesday is BACK

Submitted by JeepinBen on February 28th, 2017 at 9:17 AM

Well, it's not quite full OT season, so we won't (I won't) be starting threads every week yet, but while we wait for the Northwestern game, here's some #content.

So - who has car questions? Who needs (probably, maybe accurate) advice? Who went to auto shows and saw awesome things? Is anyone else as excited for New New Top Gear? I think Reid, Harris and LeBlanc could be pretty great. Grand tour?

Who's hitting a milestone birthday and convincing their spouse that a midlife crisis on 4 wheels makes more sense than one on two legs?

As for me, I'm just sad that every car Porsche brought to the Chicago Auto Show was black, white or gray (as are 93% of new car sales. People are boring.) Give me a Miami Blue 911 Targa GTS and I'll be happy forever

Image result for miami blue 911 targa



February 28th, 2017 at 9:31 AM ^

If you don't know much about cars - is there any general advice for a good way to finding a good/fair mechanic? Every time I take my car in, I'm not sure if I'm getting ripped off or not. If anyone has any favorites in the Ann Arbor area - I'd love to hear them.


February 28th, 2017 at 9:36 AM ^

I took my Jeep to Hoover St. Auto when I was in college, they did good work at a fair price. In general, look in your manual to see if things are required. Jiffy Lube used to always ask if I wanted my ATF flushed. I'd camly explain that I was driving a manual, so no, my automatic transmission fluid didn't need flushing.

It's also good to search certain things online - just google your car and "repair" and if there are issues or common problems they'll be on forums.


February 28th, 2017 at 10:05 AM ^

I've done this a few times.  Find a forum online for your car and a sample job several people there have reported prices for, or problems with: brakes, timing belt, water pump, clutch replacement, etc.  The people with a lot of posts are enthusiasts and usually a good, knowledgable gauge to cost averages.

Then call several local mechanics and tell them you're looking for ballpark quotes on that job.  But just pick one job - a good mechanic looking for your work should be willing to talk and build trust, but if you badger a mechanic on the phone about several unrelated jobs on one car, you might get the "go away" price.  See if what they say matches up with what you learned about the job online.  Knowledgeable people can tell you details off the top of their head that should be close to the descriptions online.

For instance, I had a timing belt to do on a Honda Odyssey.  Average I found in forums was around $1200.  Howard in AA wanted $1800 and wouldn't go into details on the phone - I'd have to bring it in, and by then it'd be on a lift and I'd already be on the hook.  Victory in Plymouth wanted 1600, same thing.  Probably just the way dealerships work because they also do warranty work.  A small, local mechanic shop wanted $700, described the job, told me the caveats (what might cost more, what options I had, etc), so I gave them a shot and have been pretty happy with him since.

Also ask about scheduling - a good mechanic stays busy and might have to book you a few days or week out.  The worst experiences I've had were with places that could get me in right away and weren't busy when I got there.



February 28th, 2017 at 10:48 AM ^

Best thing to do.  It may be a bit harder if you don't know about cars to "talk shop" with them, but after you get a recommendation/shop around and are happy with a first job, when you come back find something to shoot the breeze about.  This is best done with a smaller independant shop obviously, as larger shops that have cars moving in and out all day will be less likely to want to build a relationship with customers.

Once you get to know a place, you can have more confidence they won't try to pull anything over on you.  Other added benefits are free troubleshooting help/poking around to find a problem, and reduced hours charged on large jobs.

The shop I use in my town is a hole in the wall.  But, it's a family buisness that has been around longer than I've been alive, and they do a lot of work on older muscle cars - restoring, building motors for the drag strip, etc.  They know their stuff even if they look rough on the outside.  I recently had them do a complete head job on one of my cars that jumped timing, and while it turned out to be way more work than what we all originally thought, they probably cut out an entire week's worth of hours from the course of a month they had the car. 


February 28th, 2017 at 9:42 AM ^

The difference between the myriad 911 models... but a light blue 911 of any vintage is about perfect... others I may consider in my pleasant dream (also possibly including Jessica Gomes, crawfish etouffee, and a Parker side by side) 1967 XKE,  1974 Wagoneer, or a brand new Mini S ( love those things!)

Craptain Crunch

February 28th, 2017 at 9:45 AM ^

Many high end automakers produce cars in the black, silver, white colors for no charge. Where they get you is if you want any other color where they charge you for it. 

Remember what Henry Ford said, " Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black."

The Mad Hatter

February 28th, 2017 at 9:59 AM ^

without Clarkson (I don't care if he hits producers), May, and Hammond is a hard pass for me.

I'm turning 40 in a few months, so it's entirely possible that I come home with a two seat roadster that I can't afford.  Although I'm leaning towards finally buying a boat.  I told my wife that the next dead relative is buying me one.

The Mad Hatter

February 28th, 2017 at 10:15 AM ^

And that's why I don't have one yet.  I want something in the 30-35ft range, but the storage and maintenance costs are more than I'm willing to pay for a 6 month boating season.

I'll probably buy a 25 footer and some pos truck to pull it with instead of getting something that needs to stay in the water full time.

I fell in love with a Crownline 294CR at the boat show a few weeks ago.  It had twin big blocks and looked sexy as hell.



February 28th, 2017 at 10:36 AM ^

Have a 20' Four Winns open bow, love it.  Trailer it everywhere.  When she's not in the water she doesn't cost me a dime.

Had a 30' Sea Ray. Didn't enjoy it much at all, partly for the exact reasons you describe.  Plus she felt like a pig in the water compared to the Four Winns.

The "twin big blocks" go well with either one.  Or anything else for that matter.

The Mad Hatter

February 28th, 2017 at 12:35 PM ^

But I really need something with a cabin and a place to pee.  Plus, if you can eat, sleep, and poop on it, you can write off the loan interest as a 2nd home.

We had a 32ft Bayliner when I was in highschool and I loved that thing.  It was pretty fast for a cruiser too.  Topped out at 50ish.

The Mad Hatter

February 28th, 2017 at 1:06 PM ^

pocket cruisers.  Single engine, maybe 25ft, but with an aft-cabin.  Maxum (now defunct) used to make a great 23 footer with an aft-cabin that was trailerable.  If I can find one in good shape I'll probably get that. I want something that can take the wife and kids to Cedar Pointe once or twice per summer.


February 28th, 2017 at 10:59 AM ^

I've got an 18' Glastron ski boat.   A entire day out on the water tubing/skiing, etc, with the family costs me $20 in gas.  There are very few forms of family entertainment that are cheaper... or more enjoyable. 

I might cry if we sell it. 

Trip to disney for a week: $5,000.  Shoot me. 
Trip to lakeside home for a week w/boat: $1500

Blue in Yarmouth

February 28th, 2017 at 12:23 PM ^

I was going to type the exact same thing. I have had a boat for the past 6 years and it spends more time getting fixed than in the water. Give me a nice souped up 69 camaro ss instead anyday. If I could sell my boat and trade it for one I'd do it in a heartbeat. I know boats seem like a great idea but i'd avoid it otherwise everytime you need work done on it (and you will need work done on it), your wife will be reminding you how she told you it was a bad idea.


February 28th, 2017 at 10:02 AM ^

I hate to say it, but when it comes to Porsche, I'm one of those boring people.  Now if I could afford 3 or 4, then heck yeah....break out the crayolas! Full disclosure:  I can't afford one Porsche, especially not the vintage 911s that are going nuts right now.  For now I have to be happy with my Opel GT (inexpensive niche car) and my FJ40 (got lucky on that one), and then the accursed and ubiquitous mini van.

At the autoshow... loved the Merc AMG GT.  Liked the BMW M6.  The NSX of course.  Mostly I was disappointed that Tesla didn't show, and most of the exotics.  There was a Ferrari at the Brembo booth.

Loved seeing the 24 Hours of Lemans Ford GT on display, track grime still on.

I don't need any advice, except maybe how to make the steering on the FJ40 less sloppy.  I've heard I just need to put up with it because of having 31" tires, but I think that's probably bull crap.  This thing sometimes feels like 2 seconds from putting me in the bushes, and that ain't right.

Blue In NC

February 28th, 2017 at 11:19 AM ^

I am willing to wait at least two years, maybe more although I think for me it's likely to be only about 1 to 1.5 years.  I bought something to carry me over until then so I am not in a huge rush.  It was tough to avoid pulling the trigger on the Model S but ultimately, I think it will be the right decision for me.


February 28th, 2017 at 12:06 PM ^

I think most people will forgive production delays.  What I wonder about is this: Tesla thus far has been able to get away with all sorts of bizarre quality issues because they're basically whizbang toys that rich people can show off.  By "bizarre quality issues" I mean things like windows falling open, heaters that don't sufficiently heat, mold in the roof, and doors that stick or don't fit.  Basic stuff that would make the owner of a Chevy say "I'M NEVER BUYING GM AGAIN" and mean it.  The cheaper the car, the more people rely on it, so the more they demand out of it.  Model 3 is moving Tesla into that daily driver, take the kids to soccer practice, pick up milk and bread, category.  They're not going to tolerate doors that don't shut.  Tesla may or may not fully realize the challenges they face in scaling up - building a car is easy, but building hundreds of thousands of them is insanely complex.  If the Model 3 isn't reliable, people will wander off in search of a Chevy Bolt or something.

(In fact, let me edit that: If the Model 3 is as reliable as Models S and X, people will wander off.  Tesla has been exquisitely good at customer service and fixing those issues, but there aren't that many Teslas out there and they can focus on each one of them as they come in.  And meantime the owner just drives his Mercedes.)


February 28th, 2017 at 10:53 AM ^

I don't know much about the FJ 40s, but on Jeeps you can cover some of this up with either a new steering stabilizer (which looks like a little shock absorber) and/or upgrading the power steering pump. For Jeeps, the Durango/Ram one was beefier and bolt in. Could the 80-Series Cruiser bolt right in?

If not, maybe new tie rods, ball joints, or other steering and axle components just have lots of slop.


February 28th, 2017 at 11:24 AM ^

I think she's got a Saginaw steering box, and yeah the steering stabilizer.  I don't know about the 80s series parts bolting in.... I'm guessing no, but I should check it out.   There are FJ40 forums out the wazoo, ih8mud is good, and a ton of suggestions going every which way.  I guess I just need to start somewhere and track it down.  When I see someone on a forum say "that's just the way it is with 31s"... I really hope they're wrong.  This much slop can't be something that just goes with the turf.


February 28th, 2017 at 11:48 AM ^

If you have a Saginaw conversion, it really shouldn't be sloppy unless something is loose. The stock FJ40 steering has too many points of wear like the old pre-AMC CJs, but the saginaw setup greatly simplifies it to work much like an AMC or later CJ or Wrangler. Check your spring bushings, tie rod ends and steering gear for slop. When I first got my FJ40 with a saginaw conversion I could turn the sterring wheel 15 degrees or so with no movement of the pitman arm. With the new saginaw box that slop is all gone and I run 33s. Also make sure your saginaw box is solidly mounted to the frame horn. And lastly check your trunion bearings much like you would check for wear in a ball joint vehicle by attempting to rock the front wheel when off the ground.


February 28th, 2017 at 12:42 PM ^

My steering now sounds like your steering pre-Saginaw box, but I'm sure I have the Saginaw box.  Thank you for the suggestions!  Basically run through the mechancials.  Just glad it isn't something I have to live with.