Real Wheels Live

Jan 03, 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

Today is Friday, January 3, 2013. Today is Michael Schumacher's 45th birthday. As most of you know Schumacher is the race car legend that fell while skiing in France on Sunday. The retired seven-time world champion was out with his family, his 14-year old son, helmet on, skiing. From all reports, He landed on a rock, broke his helmet in two and is now in a medically induced coma and has been for days. He will spend his birthday in a coma.

I send my thoughts and prayers to him and his family. I ask you to do the same.

The Washington auto show sreturns January 23, 2013. Here are the links to follow the goings on. Warren will be there, so give him a hard time for me :)

Let's chat about cars

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OTR trucks diesel engines are often warranted for 500,000 miles or more. And systems like alternators, water pumps, radiatiors seem to last as long or longer. Yet cars cost an arm and a leg and one is lucky to get to 100,000 miles without the radiator, alternator, starter, water pump, power steering pump, or fuel system failing and having to be replaced. With this in mind, why are not cars evaluated on their life expectancy and reliability rather than looks, handling, and comfort?

Because most people don't keep their cars the entire life of the car. We are at the peak right, a little over 11 years. Reliability becomes more important and part of the equation of life expectancy.

Warren and Lou Ann, What are you most looking forward to in 2015? Now that the Mustang has been revealed, my pick is the new Miata.

I'm looking forward to the auto show and the concept cars. Concept cars tell me the future of the auto industry. Consumer Electronics show (CES) is next week and that will be huge in showing the technology that the industry is working on, which looks like autonomous driving right now.

Lou Ann/Warren, are you planning to review the new E550?

Isn't that a beautiful car? Wow. Yes, I am looking forward to it. Is there something you wanted to know about it?

Several chats ago, someone asked if the end of the month is the best time to buy a car. Warren dismissed this as myth and advised researching the car. While it is always smart to research your car, I recommend that everyone check out the podcast of "This American Life", Episode 513: "129 Cars," and decide for themselves as to whether or not the end of the month is the best time to buy a car, or if it is a myth (and whether the beginning of the month is the worst time).

There are a lot of spiffs (cash and cars) that dealers get if they make certain quotas . It can be cash or a better allotment of cars. If that dealer is close to making that quota there is a better chance they will make a better deal. Also, don't forget, if you have a trade-in and it isn't the same brand that is a conquest deal. It means more marketshare for the manufacturer and the dealer might be willing to give you more money for it.

Good Morning Lou Ann and Warren, I noticed in previous discussions that Lou Ann owns a 1993 Lexus LS 400 and still thinks highly of this car. I have been toying with the idea of buying a 2004-06 LS 430 and wanted to hear your reaction. Is this an expensive car to maintain? Would you expect a car this old to still be dependable? Thanks.

Grandma Doddie is her name. Grandma Doddie was my neighbor's Mother and if we all went somewhere Grandma Doddie would go with me because my car had heated seats and Sheri's (her daughter) Dodge truck didn't. Grandma Doddie (the car) has cost me less than $2,000 over the 20 years I have had her to maintain her. She has been completely garaged since the day she was born. :) She is my baby.

Warren, the dashboard warning light for low tire pressure on my 2007 Sienna is permanently on / lit even though a manual gauge shows the pressure in all four tires is fine. The Toyotal repair shop says that the problem is with the electronic sensor(s) and the computer, and that it will cost $250 to fix. Why does this annoy me so much?

For the same reason it would annoy me. You are one of those people who can't stand the flashing clock saying is 12:00 - you have to fix it.

To think that you have to have a sensor that tells you that your tires are okay and it is the sensor that has gone out, not the tires that are bad is just irritating.

Does anyone out there know if our Toyota Sienna friend can fix it themself?

I was looking at a 2012 Hyundai Genesis with about 20,000 miles that a dealer listed at a reasonable price. When I looked at the CarFax report there were no accidents or other red flags but it did indicate that the car had been used as a rental. Should I be concerned with a car that has logged about 20,000 rental miles?

Is the car appropriately priced? Rental cars get a bad rap because people that drive them don't care about them, they're a rental. But the rental companies do take care of them, they're just not going to be pampered like it would if you owned it.

Are also routine maintenance done when its due unlike many vehicle owners. My 1990 3 series had 250K miles on it and still had the original radiator, alternator, fuel pump and master cylinder. On BMWs water pumps last 60K miles or when the timing belt needs changed. AC compressor died at 13 years of age and 200K miles. Car was a track day car too. Changing fluids and doing the recommended maintenance will keep components living longer. Many OTR trucks go a couple hundred thousand miles in a year. Time kills more often than mileage. Clifton, VA


Hello Lou Ann. The issue with my new car dealer not responding is at this point: The dealer I was referred to has taken the car apart to find the source of the issue - icing - even with mid-teen temps last night it didn't freeze up, so the plan now is that if it ever freezes up again, I will call the "care" line, and arrange for towing to the dealership to have the car checked out. They didn't want to start replacing parts without knowing what the problem is, so now it is a waiting game. The attention from the corporation was phenomenal, and I very much appreciate their taking the effort. I really hope it never happens again, but am assured that the company is making all effort to manage the issue.

That's wonderful.

A recap to the rest of the chatters - I always tell all of you that if you have a real problem with a car and the dealer isn't satisfying you to email me at lou at This person did, on a Toyota problem. I forwarded the email to Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A. Inc. He contacted the dealer in this person's area and they have been working to try to find a solution.

The manufacturer's want your business and have the ability to go the extra mle to make sure you are happy.

Is he participating in the chat today?

We are all serving at the pleasure of the internet. Two weeks ago my internet went out and I had to run next door to use their internet.

I'm considering replacing my 2004 TrailBlazer with a Traverse for a little more room. The TrailBlazer is a truck, while I believe that the Traverse is a unibody. I know I should get a smoother ride, but am I going to miss my truck frame and locking rear diff? I only get off road a couple of times a year.

Rent a vehicle for going off road. The diffference in comfort for the year round use is substantial. Plus you're not stuck with one car for off-roading. You can try many different ones, icnluding a Jeep.

My dad's Toyota Avalon also had the problem of the TPMS light be permanently on, even though all four tires had good tire pressure. The problem turned out to the doughnut spare, which also had a sensor. I would advise the Sienna owner to check the spare.

I'm putting this out there, though it sounded like the person had the dealer check and found out it was the sensor. Sometimes it's the easiest things. thanks

"Yet cars cost an arm and a leg and one is lucky to get to 100,000 miles without the radiator, alternator, starter, water pump, power steering pump, or fuel system failing and having to be replaced." I'm at 120,000 miles and have yet to repair any of these systems in my car (2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee). Wait, did I just jinx myself?

Did your car just break? :)

I'm constantly bragging about my Lexus.

But you could knock on wood and throw some salt over your shoulder just in case.

What are your thoughts? I've got a '10 mustang convertible now, the stick shift is growing wearisome in this traffic....

I love a manual to drive, but you are right, in traffic it is cumbersome.  Get the S5 automatic with tiptronic and you have the best of both worlds.

Wheres Warren? Someplace warm i hope?

Ahh Clifton, you do care about Warren after all.

I bought a used Genesis last year that had been a rental. It has been great so far - it was priced well below the equivalent non-rental car, so it was a good value to me, despite the possibility (probability) of greater wear.

That's the key, pricing it accordingly. If a car is garaged and has routine maintaince it is going to garner a better price than if the car is freezing out in the cold or being driven hard by many different drivers whose only fascination in the car is whether it can get them to their destination.

It is a bargaining chip.

Besides the Traverse take a look at the the Jeep Grand Cherokee which can go off road and far off road with right options. Look at Dodge Durango if you need 3 rd seat. Clifton VA

Both good cars but it sounded like they were a GM person, not a Chrysler person. But as you saw, I did suggest renting a Jeep.

Ask the shop if its the sensor on the wheel and which one. If its the sensor on the wheel you can find them on Amazon or Ebay and purchase 4 replacements for less than $100. Or if you know its just one the cost will be less. You can have any good tire shop do it and the cost for one wheel should be $50 maybe less give take. If its the sensor in the vehicle that reads the TPMS sensors you have a choice repair and replace or place tape over sensor. The law mandating TPMS sensors is another poor excuse by the Feds to save us from our own stupidity. Clifton, VA

It does seem a bit irritating that this person wont' know if their tires are inflated correctly because of the tire sensor.

BUT - NHTSA takes an aggregate of accidents and looks at the ones that are the most eggregious and the ones that hapen the most. they make their rulings from that. If enough people aren't checking their tires that is the reason they are mandating tpms. I wouldn't call it stupidity, more forgetting.

Dear Warren and Lou Ann, A follow-up on my earlier request for you to contact someone at Mazda to address the stereo flaw on 2014 CX-5s with Tech package. Still no resoultion from Mazda regarding the problem: Any device connected to the USB on the stereo plays the same song (the first on the device) every time the car is started. After start-up, other songs or shuffle can be chosen, and the device plays properly. (Mazdas247 thread on this issue: Any word from Mazda? Thank you!

Did you email me directly? If not do so and I'll email Mazda corp directly. lou at - put washingtonpost chat in the subject line.

Warren and friends

It's supposed to get colder and there are forecasts of snow this weekend. Take care, stay warm. Thanks once again to Matt our producer. Warren, get your internet fixed.

And remember - never drive faster than your Angel can fly.

much love

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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