Talking Cars: Looking for a smooth ride
QUESTION: Our teenage daughter has a rare condition called RSDS, which translates to “every single bump hurts” nerve damage. I started searching online for advice about a car with a smooth ride, which led me to your article about people’s Cadillacs. Could you please tell me where to start looking, the key words to use when discussing suspension, etc? Comparison stats focus on mileage, which we certainly value, but we have this additional odd requirement. If I call a dealer for general information they launch into the minutiae about their specific cars, and we are not at that point yet.
ANSWER: There are many makes of vehicles on the market today. A lot of them have low-profile 55-60 series tires. Vehicles with these size tires tend to have stiffer suspensions and harder rides. The only suggestion I can make is for you and your daughter to go and test drive as many vehicles that you can. Travel over the roads that will be driven frequently.
QUESTION: We are looking for a full size sedan that is comfortable to drive and has good performance. I would rather not have a foreign car and we want to keep the price under 45K. We were made aware of the 2011 Taurus SHO and were able to drive a used 2010 model. We were shocked at its performance, a V6 with twin turbo chargers. I had to let up on the throttle, I was getting nervous and I believe the front end started to get light. From a rolling start, I had to let go at about 45 mph. This car wanted to start flying! My question: What is your opinion; quality, value, any possible mechanical issues?
ANSWER: There is no question that today’s vehicles have a lot more power from the addition of turbo chargers and precise electronics and fuel management. I get to drive a new vehicle every week for evaluation and the eco boost twin turbo charged V6 has more performance and fuel economy than the V8s of years ago. Don’t forget about the additional gears from the automatic transmission; this also keeps the engine in the power RPM band. This is a good choice for a performance sedan.
QUESTION: I have always wondered if there are reasonable ways to compare engine life/wear between autos and boats with similar types of motors. I own a 2000 Sea Ray with a 5.7 L electronic fuel injected motor (stern drive). It essentially is a small block Chevy. My question is comparing the number of miles a car is driven to the number of hours a boat engine is operated and what the equivalent wear my engine may have (with 450 hours) to that of a car’s mileage with a similar motor. Keep in mind this engine’s oil is changed every 45 hours of operation and typically is run at rpm’s in the 3,000 to 3,400 range.
ANSWER: At 450 hours the engine still has another 450 left as long as the maintenance is kept up. There are many factors that relate to boats. First is the engine temperature is always consistent? Second, the engine is always under a load. When is the last time you backed off the throttle and coasted down the lake or ocean? I have been a boat owner for many years and have yet to have an engine fail from an internal problem.
QUESTION: I own a 1996 Mazda 626 automatic transmission. I removed the right axle to replace it and cannot get it back in the transmission. I even tried to reinstall the old axle and could not get it back in. I asked the parts counter person and he said I have to hit it into the transmission with a hammer. I tried along with a friend. Do you have any suggestions?
ANSWER: The most common fault is the inner clip falls down and there is no way the axle will slid back over the locking clip. We use a small amount of grease to hold the clip and make sure the open part of the clip is at the bottom. I ensure this will work and the axle will slide in with a slight tap from a hammer.
QUESTION: I saw a commercial for the new 2011 Kia Optima with the four-cylinder and automatic transmission. The car looked very good in the commercial. My question is what do you think about the car? I know over the years the whole Kia line has not been good.
ANSWER: As you know I get a new vehicle every week for evaluation purposes. A few weeks ago I had a 2011 Optima EX sticker price at $27,440, four-cylinder, six-speed automatic. This car had all options including heated and ventilated front seat, even a heated steering wheel. Power from the four-cylinder was amazing, not to mention the six-speed transmission. The large sunroof had high quality interior appearance, fit and finish were as good as cars with double the price tag, not to mention the warranty. Everyone that drove and rode in our test car could not believe it was a Kia. This car truly surprised me as well.
Junior Damato writes regularly about cars. You can send questions to him care of the Old Colony Memorial, 182 Standish Ave., Plymouth, MA 02360, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.