Real Wheels Live.

Nov 14, 2014

The Washington Post cars columnist Warren Brown and guest Lou Ann Hammond will discuss the auto industry. Plus, they'll give purchase advice to readers.

Good Morning Warren and friends


I had dinner last night with my brother, Ed, who lives in South Carolina but was in the San Francisco bay area for work. 


My husband, Stretch, and a couple of Ed's co-workers, Jason and Mark, all helped Ed celebrate his birthday. 


Mark is from Oklahoma so the first thing I asked about was the earthquakes happening out there. Of course, the subject of fracking came up. How many of you think fracking is causing earthquakes? 


We were talking about driving in the bay area and Jason said that one of the differences iabout driving in the bay area is that the drivers leave so much space between each other. I commented that it isn't that way in Los Angeles.


What city have you driven in where you noticed a different way of driving? I remember driving in New Jersey and NOONE used their blinkers. I asked the driver, a retired cop, about it and he said that was commonplace, you didn't look at the other driver and you didn't blink - or use your blinker. 


I drove the Nissan Juke Nismo RS from Auburn to San Francisco and back. It got decent mileage, around 29mpg. If I was going to compare it I would have to say its biggest competitor was the Ford Fiesta ST. The 2014 Juke Nismo RS starting MSRP was $26,120. with a final price of $28,345. 


Drivability wise the 2014 Juke was sweet, handled the corners, got me out of tight squeezes in traffic, allowed me to punch it and still felt like there was more power. 


I would like it quieter. Not the engine, the engine had a nice sound to it, but the road noise and the cabin noise could be dampened. 


I also drove the Honda Civic. Quiet, nice, everything about the car is intuitive, back up camera is standard. I got about 30 mpg on that as well. The Civic won't handle the corners as well as the Juke Nismo or Fiesta St, but for regular commute it is a grea value for the money.


Let's chat cars 


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Happy Friday! We're down to our final three... We need an SUV with 4WD or AWD, that can accommodate two carseats, is SAFE, reliable, and can tow between 4,000-6,000 lbs. We have on our list: Toureg TDI, Jeep Grand Cherokee - gas, or Durango. We had considered the diesel Jeep, but in reading consumer reviews, it seems like they're having some issues with the diesel engine. If they've resolved them by 2015, we'd reconsider, given the price savings over the Toureg TDI. We drive our cars until they won't get us where we need to go anymore. We trust your recommendations and insight, so we'd appreciate your input! Thanks!!!

The Toureg TDI is the safest (financially) bet, especially if your primary concern is getting a very reliable diesel vehicle.

All I could do is shake my head the other day after reading the Post story about people jumping back into the market for large SUVs, as gas prices fall. Did oil suddenly become an infinite resource, just because it's cheaper?

Oil hasn't become an infinite resource. It remains quite finite, in fact. But we of short memories in this country tend to go with the moment. And at the moment, global oil prices are falling largely because technological progress has helped boost oil production in te US. Other questions--global warming and other environmental concerns--seem to have been pushed to the back burner.

Good morning: I'm anxiously awaiting for the 2015 VW Golf R to arrive... any news on when it may be available next year?

Spring of 2015, I think.

I know - I know 

People forget that the price of gasoline is their variable interest rate. Think of how much it will cost for a fill-up of gasoline when the price goes back to $4 a gallon. And it will, the elections are over my friends, the price will go back up. 

I said the same the other night on the John Batchelor radio show.

We were talking about Tesla and how people are not buying hybrids because the price of gasoline is so cheap. 

I made the point that, in fact, not only are people not buying hybrids from car companies but the car companies are having to buy zero emission vehicle credits from Tesla to meet the ZEV credit requirements in California 

I own a Golf TDI which has been a superb daily commuter (50 miles round trip) for the last three years. I recently had an expensive accessory go bad right after it came out of warranty. Although the actual accessory is not a vital part of the car, it is an enjoyable extra. I called VW customer service to ask them if they would consider a goodwill gesture, and they covered the entire repair. That's how you earn repeat customers. Love the car, love the service.

What a difference a couple years make. I remember backpacking in Colorado with some friends and one of them lamenting that VW's service was so bad they would never buy one. And it was, and it had to change. 

I am glad because I like Volkswagens and the cars they have coming out now are great fun to drive but who wants to be angry every time you have to have a car fixed because it was so expensive or the experience was so poor. 

Thanks for the update. 

Good Mroning Warren and Lou Ann, In over 35 years of ahving various cars serviced at various dealerships I ahve never been treated so abd and such awful expereince as did this past Monday at Lindsay jeep in Manassas, VA. I go there at 745 for scheduled appointment for an oil change and to ahve the fluid changed in both differentials on my 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I asked for synthetic and service advisor said Mopar doesnt over synthetic for the diffs I said okay. Then Mopar fluid for the diffs. he said it woudl take abotu 2 hrs. Thought it was a little long but blew it off. About 90 minutes later another service advisor found me in the waiting room and tried to up sell me a throttle body cleaning for $200+ and tire rotation. I said no and stated Jeep staes never clean the throtttle body. She got huffy. Then she mentioned they were doing the recall for the headliner. I said what??? I never authorized having the recall done and I dont want it done and you need to stop it. I said my headliner was never worked on so the recall doesnt apply. She said I would ahve to sign something and left with an attidue and in huff. Another 60 minutes later I notice my vehicle is outside but no one has come and got me. So I find the female service advisor and ask. She says my Jeep was done and I notice the service manager walking away. She says they completed the recall i say waht I never authroized it and she said angirly they were too far along to stop. She then said the needed to order a visor since one was damaged. i said waht excuse me. They were fine. I then noticed they used conventional order instead of synthetic and I was upset. I asked to see the service manager and she said he wasnt he was at the body shop angirly. I said what about general mananger and she said nastily he is in meeting. I paid my bill and left in huff. Hanging on my reaview mirro was a tag saying please rate us all "10's" if you get a survey and if you ahve any problems call me the service manager. Now I have had my Grand Cherokee serviced at Lindsay formerly Manassas Chrysler Jeep since May 2012 and never had any issues . The former service manage Margaret always took good care of me. I called and left a message with new service manager that they used the wrong oil, my headliner and visors ahve all kinds of smudges from their tech and it rattles. he called me back 48 hrs later and elft a message. ig et back to him, I dotn recommend any of Lindsay franchises after this mess. This the worst dealer service I have ever had in 35 years of using dealers to maintain my vehicles. Lindsay is 10 minutes from house so I guess I be looking for a new dealer for service. I am also a member of the NOVA Jeepers and I see if what I can do to remove them from the club vendor list. have a great weekend you all! Clifton, VA

The Lindsay I know is better than that. But It seems like someone dropped the ball here and let a misunderstanding, poor communication escalate into something else. I'll post this. I'm certain the folks at Lindsay will take this complaint seriously.

Hi guys, love the chats! Do you have any updated info on when we'll be able to lease the VW e-Golf and for how much? Thanks!

I heard it was $299 a month but would need to verify with VW. is the website but I don't see it on there. 

Did you ask your local dealer? 

The writers' advice to research safety in Automotive News revealed two other major producers of air bags: Autoliv (Sweden) and Daciel (Japan). Apparently they use different propellants than does Takata? It wasn't clear who their customers are except for Volvo and presumably some German vehicle manufacturers. What surprises me most is that the ten identified users of Takata bags might not do any in-house quality control of the bags they are putting in the vehicles we buy? Is it common practice for Ford, GM, Honda, Toyota, Mazda etc to trust suppliers implicitly without doing their own in-house QC of the components they procure? Shouldn't it be their practice to periodically double check components before exposing customers to potential hazards? What is their position on this question?

Al of the original equipment manufacturers have in-house quality controls. Do they trust their suppliers? Yes, they'd better. Otherwise nothing would ever get built. Takata, however, seems to have misled some people. More on that, later.

I'm torn. Trabant or Yugo? I'm leaning toward the Yugo. If I get it up to speed, the police can't point their radar gun at me because of all the smoke coming from the exhaust. The Pontiac Aztek is also in the mix. What is your advice? Thanks.


I hope you have car mechanics reading your Live sessions. I know that restaurant people read Ask Tom with Tom Sietsema. My biggest frustration with my mechanic is his lack of communication. I have brought my car in various times and gotten a call fairly quick in the morning with an update of the problem and an estimated cost. At the end of the conversation, he says he will call me when the work is done. He never calls. I always call around 4:00pm too make sure the car will be ready for pickup. The past two weeks, I have been dealing with the check engine light coming on. I brought it in yesterday and said I would stay until I knew what the problem was. I was off for Veteran's Day. He said it should be 45 minutes to an hour. Three hours later, he stops by the lounge to say they are still working to identify the problem. He offers a loaner saying it would be another hour and a half before the test are done. He finally calls four hours later saying they changed the purge valve and wanted to take it for a test drive. Today, he called first thing in the morning saying they wanted to drive a little more to make sure. Then I hear nothing. I called at 4:00pm for an update and was told the check engine light had come back on, so they replaced the O2 sensor and took it for additional test drives. He needed my authorization for the O2 sensor... why hadn't he called before they put it in? When you tell me that you will call back or that it should be ready in 2-3 hours, I expect to hear something if the plans change.

Is this a new car dealer? email me at lou at if it is. We will send the info to the manufacturer, they will deal with the dealer. Put washington post in the subject line

I had the same problem with Verizon wireless the other day. I negotiated 2 smartphones and one jetpack (hotspot) for $230 a month for unlimited text, calling and 30GB. When I got the bill it was $100 more a month. 

Fortunately I had the representative email and I had recorded the entire conversation. Got the right price! 

I always record my conversations with utility companies and financial transactions. I have no time to play the blame game . Give me what you said you will give me. 

At least you have a loaner (you're not paying for it, right?) 

Keep us posted

The check engine light came on twice. The first time, they said the code was a one time misfire event. They reset it and sent me on my way. A few days later, it came on again, so I went back a second time. They spent all day running tests to see what was up and eventually decided it was the purge valve. I don't know if the tests said it was bad or just that they had replaced it earlier in the year and assumed it was the only thing that could be wrong. But, instead of giving me the car back, they said they wanted to give it a test drive to make sure the check engine light didn't come on. They went on a short one before closing for the day and then today they said they wanted to take it out for a 100 mile trip to make sure the light didn't come back on. I am fairly protective of my car and the thought of a total stranger going on a 100 mile drive around the DC region makes me nervous. I can't help but think more could go wrong than if they just let me have the car back and if it goes on again have me return. Is this kind of testing normal?

It seems as if the repair people are trying to do the right thing. If it makes you feel better, find out who will do the 100 mile drive and where to.

I would add a caveat to Warren's opinion on snow tires. In the DC region, many of us can, and should, just not drive on the few days when the roads are dangerous. For the past few years, my employer, along with many others was closed on each of the few days that the roads were not fit to drive on my commuting route. As more and more folks have the ability to work from home, this option is available to many. In response to Louanne's question, I put kitty litter, a shovel, and a scraper in the trunk of each car. I view these items as talismans, as long as I have them in the car, I don't need them.


Hey Warren: Do you think we will ever get an Audi A3 with a manual transmission? Are sticks a dying breed?

Sticks are a dying breed among many manufacturers. If it is a sports car the number of people that buy stick/manual is higher, but many buy automatic with paddle shifters. 

Lou Ann & Warren,, Can you bring me up to date on the status of any efforts to build an all-electric pick-up? I recall that Elon Musk has talked about developing such a product. An all-electric pick-up that had a range of 150 miles or so would be perfect for many people. In all the times I have used a pick-up to haul loads, I have never needed a range beyond 100 miles.

There's a company called VIA, Bob Lutz is on the board, and they make range extenders/ plug-in pickups. 

Musk is talking about Model X, an SUV that he has pushed back a couple times but still expects to bring out. 

The thing about electric vehicles is that the more they exert in power they more energy they use, just like you. So it may not be how far you go that makes the difference, it might be how much you tow or haul in the back. 

I'm still in favor of plug-in hybrids because you get the low-end torque and the ability to use electricity for short trips. 

We're driving a Ford C-Max to LA Sunday. We'll get the firs 40 miles of electricity and then go to gas. When we get to the hotel in LA we will be able to hook it up again and use their electricity to go around LA and then the first 40 will be on electricity going home again. 

Even when it was above $4 a gallon it took a100k miles of driving or more to justify the hybrid or diesel option. Rember EVS from their birth ie making of all the aprts especially their batteries to their salvaging at the end of thier life pollute our earth more over thier lifespan than any early 1960's luxobarge with no pollution controls. Mining the materials for the abtteries for EVs is incredibly dmaging to theenvironment and offsets any beniies from being an EV. Clifton, VA

Basically baloney, and a perfect example of the short-sighted thinking that seems to be leading us back down the guzzle-til-you-drop path. The move toward hybrids and other forms of electrification largely was prompted by OEM's who ascertained that oil is not forever, thus they began looking for alternative propulsion systems. Technology has given boost to a new round of oil exploration and development. Yehhh. My hunch, that won't last forever, either. See you back at record fuel prices in about two years,

Sorry Warren the quality of the service they provide ahs delcined dramatically since they purchased Manassas Jeep. manassas Jeep ahve great dealer service. Lindsay is they worst in the area and many NOVA Jeepers club members feel the same way. Not to mention how they scrwed Kiline's Freeze a local institution. Clifton, VA

Okay, Clifton.

I definitely have noticed that cars in MD do not leave space ... I commute on 97 and 100 and 50 and it is amazing to me how closely people will follow at 70 MPH. It's gotta be the cause of accidents when there's so little room for a sudden adjustment. I like to get behind a truck because I know no one will want to butt in front of me, and then I just cruise as best I can.

just make sure to duck if you run into the back of it :) 

It is amazing to me how close people think they can get to the back of my car and not get in an accident. Sometimes I put the emergency lights on when they do it just to get them off of me. 

Warren and Lou Ann, Just a comment. Mazda 3 is a great car but there are so many of the 4 door sedans on the road. Would highly recommend the hatchback. Same car but with different look/styling.

oh yeah, I definitely like the hatchback, but doesn't the hatchback have 4 doors? 

so functional and so fun to drive 

What is the direct connection between the elections and price of gas? Show your work.

There is no work to show. Shale oil production in the United States took off, reducing the need for imports. Advances in non-fossil propulsion systems and improvements in fossil fuel systems improved fuel efficiency and reduced consumption. OPEC responded by cutting prices. That means, at the moment, prices down. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats had much to do with it.

Warren, Have the folks in Munich and Stuttgart pushed back on your complaint that much of what they offer as pricey options should be included in the base price of their vehicles? Based on a just-concluded exercise of building a Chevy Colorado online, it seems that GM is also guilty of this practice, at least when it comes to trucks. Features and functions that should be standard on a work truck -- like a bed liner, splash guards and remote adjustable outside mirrors -- were available only as extra features or, even worse, part of expensive options packages.

The more expensive the car, the more you pay for accessories. Same with hotels, the more expensive the hotel, the more you pay for wifi and fitness use.

Stretch and I just drove across country in a promaster 2500 - we never paid more than $70 for a hotel room and wifi was free every night. coffee in the room and a fridge. not the same at the four seasons across the street :) 

Are watching the pennies since they count on the bottom line. look at all the recalls even for MB and BMW. QC has succumbed to watching the pennies. Now Jag and land Rover two companies known for crummy relaibility are the exceptions. Big kidos to Tata Motors and the Brits making these vehicles. Who would ahve thought the a Range Rover is more reliable than a Mercedes GL, BMW X5, Audi Q7, or Jeep Grand Cherokee! Clifton, VA

I have had a range rover conk out on me and they have had to bring a computer out to reboot it. Twice! 

Tata may be making things better but too much computer in a car is not necessarily a good thing. 

Todays winter tires also provide superior handling and traction in the dry in temps below 45 degrees and superior handling and braking on wet roads. So its not just in the snow where you see a performance advantage. No they do provide some benefits on ice but the only tire that is barely safe on ice is winter tire with studs. Many folsk in this area have jobs where they cant work from home because of the material they deal has to be controlled and telecommuting just doesnt work for that. Other times its you in office day adn Dougie and his friends are wrong and you are driving home in 6inches of nsow when they only called for a dusting. Winter tires work better in all conditions then all season sorry no seasons. Clifton VA


What do you think of the new Pilot?

Like it, just drove it. pleasant good mpg. accessories nicely placed. 

This forum i9s open to all. Presumably all of you are not named "Clifton." C'mon, folks, participate. We need and want you. Thanks Angela Wong, Jess Stahl, Lou Ann Hammond, Ria Manglapus. Eat lunch.

And join us same time next week. You can start submitting questions now.

In This Chat
Warren Brown
Warren Brown has covered the cars industry for The Washington Post since 1982.

On Wheels Archive

Real Wheels Live Q&A Archive
Lou Ann Hammond
Lou Ann Hammond is the founder and owner of the first privately owned automobile website Recently Lou Ann has developed an automotive and energy issues related website,, that covers a broader range of subjects than solely the automotive or the energy industry.
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