Q. I’ve bought a new
and wonder about getting it with an extended warranty. The dealer says
you recommend such a warranty because of electronics on the car.
– M.H., via Internet
A. I don’t know what the dealer is talking about, but that warranty is a waste of money, especially on that ultra reliable model. Note that all modern cars have considerable electronics.
Q. What about electric cars? – M.S., Cicero
A. It’s estimated there will be as many as 300 all-electric cars or plug-in electric vehicle models offered in America by 2013, but that total sales will be equivalent to only about 1 percent of the market. Some of the projected problems are battery life and battery disposal.
Q. I’ve become fascinated by auto-related programs on the Speed cable television network. I’ve lately watched reruns of a recent Barrett-Jackson collector car auction, which is a colorful event with desirable collector cars. When will another auction by that outfit be run and shown on the Speed network? Is it a good place to ascertain the value of collectible cars? – G.P., Philadelphia
A. Speed network spokesman David Harris says the next Barrett-Jackson Collector Car auction, which will feature a wide variety of colorful classic/collector cars, will be shown “live” in January on Speed, which describes itself as a “top cable TV network dedicated to motor sports and the passion for anything automotive.” The auction runs January 19, 20 and 21 from 7 p.m. to midnight, from January 22 to 23 from 2 p.m. to midnight and on January 24 from 2 to 6 p.m. (Eastern times.) Most Barrett-Jackson vehicles shown on “Speed” are in great shape and many are bought by affluent folks. But it’s possible to find the same model cars in lesser shape for less money through conventional sales channels. Then again, I’ve seen some cars in great shape at the Barrett-Jackson auction sell for reasonable prices.
Q. I live in the Chicago area and recently drove my 1969 manual-transmission sports car a short distance at low speeds around my neighborhood in 24-degree-weather because it had been sitting in below-20-degree weather for a month. I found it occasionally wouldn’t shift from fifth to fourth gear. Rather, when I put it firmly in the fourth gear slot, it went into third gear, causing engine revs to climb a lot. After another five minutes of driving, it shifted correctly from fifth to fourth gear. What gives? – M.K., Elmwood Park
A. The lubricant in the linkage/cables from the shifter to the transmission likely caused the wrong gear to be selected because the lubricant was cold and thus thick and resisted the transmission from moving to the correct gear until it became warmer. It’s best to drive an old car in at least 40-degree weather, although taking it out once a month in winter and driving easily until it reaches normal engine temperature is a good idea to get mechanical parts and tires moving. Avoid sloppy wet/salted winter roads, which especially causes old cars to rust. Keep the battery up to par with a plug-in trickle charger.
Q. What do mechanics say is
one of the most-neglected car parts that should be replaced for winter
driving? –D.H., Chicago
A. Windshield wipers.
Q. I am thinking about buying the collectible 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 with a Cross Ram dual carburetor intake manifold, which was optional in its day. I hear it makes the Z/28 worth more but also makes it more difficult to drive on the street. –T.S., Hillside
A. The very special Z/28 had a beefed up chassis and race engine—a 302-cubic-inch V-8--that Chevy gave the Camaro to let it beat the rival Ford Mustang in the popular Trans Am race series for stock cars in the late 1960s. Chevy had to offer the Z/28 to the general public to let the car compete in the Trans Am, which it won two years in a row. Anyone could order one at a Chevy dealer. It was built from 1967 through 1969, but was virtually unknown to anyone but racers in 1967, with only 602 made that year. It became widely known in 1969, when 20,302 were produced, and I’d love to have a good, original one. Chevy said the Z/28 had 290 horsepower to avoid stiff owner insurance premiums, but it produced at least 350 horsepower. It only ran well at high rpms—and that was with the standard large Holley four-barrel carburetor. Add the Cross Ram manifold and two big Holley four-barrel carbs and you had a track setup that added horsepower but needed really high revs for street driving, where it was “overcarbureted.” Floor the throttle at under 2,000 rpm with the Cross Ram and you dump so much gas into the Z/28 engine that it will stall. The racing Z/28s ran at high rpms so the Cross Ram was no problem on tracks. I’d buy a Z/28 with the Cross Ram simply because it’s a nifty item to have in that car. The Z/28’s rare all-disc brake option is especially valuable, but virtually impossible to find and not needed for street driving.
Q. Are trunk spoilers necessary for cars other than high-performance autos driven very fast? – I.F., Evanston
A. They’re just a cosmetic item for virtually all autos. You see them on fast, exotic sports cars and race cars because they improve aerodynamics and increase road-holding pressure at the rear.