About the left lane

I drove 700 miles yesterday, and for the most part the trip was uneventful. But while driving around DC it became painfully obvious that most drivers in that part of the country (and probably most other parts as well) either don’t know or don’t care how to properly use the highways. I’m speaking specifically about the common practice of sliding… More →

Chrysler’s lifetime powertrain warranty

Automotive News is reporting that, starting today, nearly all 2006 and newer Chrysler vehicles will come with a lifetime powertrain warranty. The only limitations mentioned are that the warranty is not transferable–I’ve never heard of a lifetime warranty that was, so no surprise there–and that the vehicle must have a free inspection performed every five years by the dealer. As mentioned… More →

Need a new muffler bearing? Well, they’re now available online!

Years ago a friend of mine worked as a dealership service writer. Every once in a while they’d have a customer who insisted there was something wrong with a car, but the dealer could find nothing wrong. So they’d replace the muffler bearing. And if that didn’t work, the lubristat. Free of charge, of course. It was the automotive equivalent of a placebo,… More →

Response rate after the second follow-up; also–why some of you receive so many emails

The second follow-up went out on Tuesday, and so far 300 owners have responded, for a total of 2618 responses. This brings the response rate to 37 percent, which is a percent or two below previous quarters at this point. That said, I haven’t cleaned out bad email addresses yet this quarter, so it’ll probably end up about the same… More →

Two things car owners often complain about

For just about any car, if you visit forums you’ll find complaints about two things: The tires The audio system Most recently, I’ve found claims that the optional Harman/Kardon system in the Mercedes-Benz GL 450 doesn’t sound nearly as good as the Bose systems in some competing vehicles. And complaints that the Bose system in the Infiniti M. A common catchphrase… More →

Those “used car shortage” letters — does the dealer really need your car?

Recently I’ve come across threads on many forums (such as this one) where a member asks about a letter they received from their car dealer. In the letter, the dealer says it badly needs more used cars, perhaps even the specific car the person owns, and so will make it especially easy to trade the member’s current car in for… More →

Unrestful headrests

An increasing amount of attention is being focused on whiplash protection, and as a result manufacturers have been designing headrests that offer better protection when the car is rear-ended. This is a good thing, right? Well, not entirely. In some cases a safer headrest can be very uncomfortable. To make the headrest safer, the manufacturer positions it further forward, sometimes… More →

Adjusting outliers

Well, it had to happen at some point: a usually reliable model requires multiple repair trips for one owner. In statistics, this is known as an “outlier.” The question for me: how to handle them? Leaving outliers as they are can distort the results, especially with small sample sizes. In the most extreme case from the upcoming August results, I… More →