Real Wheels Live

Feb 21, 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.

C'mon people. Let's get this chat going. It's USA versus Canada at noon. Go USA!

I've only owned small sedans in the past (currently a Saturn SL2) and need to think about buying a new car soon, but I think I might like a crossover. It would be nice to have something that sits a bit higher (easier for Mom to get in and out of) and has more room for passengers and cargo, but not that much more. But I'm also one of those drivers that just loves to drive, especially down a windy two-lane country road, so what's a crossover that's not that big, is good on gas, has the bells and whistles, and is FUN to drive? Not interested in hatchbacks or Cooper Mini/Kia Soul type cars.

Windy two-lane roads and tall-bodied crossover utility models aren't exactly the best combination. Thing a lower profile vehicle, maybe a Subaru Outback wagon, or Hyundai Santa Fe.

Good morning Warren and Friends

In case anyone doesn't know, U.S. and Canada are vying for top spot today for the Olympic hockey gold. How do I know this? Because my really really good friend, Warren Brown, called me at 9am HIS time to tell me how excited he was.

For any of you that might not now this yet, I live in California, 3 hours behind the illustrious Mr. Brown. :)

Go U.S. (except for our friend Garrey in Ottawa, go Canada)

I'm driving an Audi RS7 this week. I haven't had so many people look at a car since I drove the Chevy Corvette Stingray.

Let's chat about cars

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Lou Ann Hammond

Warren, your rule of thumb is fine, as long as you specify C rather than F. The questioner from last actually explained why you were right, not why you were wrong: "Air pressure varies proportionally with temperature, but measured from absolute zero on the Kelvin scale. A drop of 10 deg F is no where near the temperature change that you'd need to see 1 psi difference in a tire inflate to somewhere 30-35 psi." 10C is about a 3-4% change in temp when temperatures are near freezing (273K), so for tires in the 30-35psi range, 10C = about 1 psi.

As I said, the question was confusing. All I know is that cold weather, especially severely col weather, yields a tire pressure warning.

What does the secondary air injection pump do? I have over 95,000 miles on my car and had it in for repairs last week. The cylinder pressure was low on all of the cylinders, so they removed the cylinder heads, had them machined, and rebuilt the engine. This week, I am hearing a new noise for about 30-40 seconds after starting the engine. It sounds like a vacuum cleaner is running. On the owners forum, others say it is normal to hear the secondary air injection pump run after starting the engine when it is cold. But, for me, the sound is new. I don't know if it is connected to the repair, an new problem, or something else.

Okay, Clifton. This is one of your babies.


from Clifton -

First off, your engine shouldn't have needed to be rebuilt with less than 100k miles on it if it was properly maintained. Secondary air pump adds air for emissions if I remember correctly. Since I don't have a vehcile type, make and year who knows. Your rebuilt engine should come with a warranty from the shop so take it back now and ask. Most owners forums are worthless because many of the posters don't have a clue. You should read the amount of BS on some 2011 and newer Jeep Grand Cherokee forums. Clifton, VA

Are Audi's Laser Beam headlights anything more than marketing handwaving? I mean it seems silly to generate a laser beam only to defocus it to act like a headlight. They claim to it gets the beam further down the road, but I don't see why that's any more the case for a defocused laser than it is for a focused LED, Halogen, or other bulb.

I have asked Audi. The LED lights are supposed to last longer but they are more expensive to replace. If I hear from them I will post the answer.


Here is Scot Keogh, CEO of Audi, talking about laser lights at the CES 2014 in January.

Hello Warren and Lou Ann, A few weeks ago I wrote in about having to replace my 1996 Accord, and was leaning towards a (new to me) Audi or Tacoma. Demands include a 4 hr. commute on weekends (so mileage, comfort is important) as well as ability to go off road on steep, gravel/dirt/rugged "road" (can't get around this, either). Lou Ann, you asked about any need to tow and passengers. I don't really need to tow anything--my DH wants to replace our 1995 Ford F150 with something that will address those needs. But, with an 8yo boy and our life, being able to have room for taking "stuff" (cat carriers, bags, equipment, etc.) from home to other property is a must. (Typically, it would just be me and our son in the vehicle.) I am leaning toward the Audi Allroad b/c I think it will fit this need better than an Audi sedan, but am also looking at something like a Tacoma (which would fit the "off road" part of our life very well). If you have any additional thoughts, I'd love to hear what you think, thanks much!

I'd go with something such as an Audi q5 or Q7 all-wheel-drive. I'd recommend diesel, but diesel in that Audi line costs $15,000 extra.

How did you know that question was from Clifton? He didn't sign it.

Clifton has a way of answering a question. And if it's anything about Jeeps and how wonderful they are it is instant recognition. But the way the answer is worded from Warren it sounds like Warren is actually inviting Clifton to answer it.

What are your thoughts on the USA's loss to Canada yesterday?

I thought our women put up a heck of a good fight. But they seemed distracted in the last four minutes. You can't play distracted against Canada.

Do you know when the 2015 is coming out? Are there any major changes that make it worth waiting or should I buy a 2014?

Buy the 2014. It's a good, safe, reliable, reasonably priced urban wagon. I don't think the 2015 model, due out some time in late summer, will be that much better, certainly not that much better priced.

First off, your engine shouldn't have needed to be rebuilt with less than 100k miles on it if it was properly maintained. Secondary air pump adds air for emissions if I remember correctly. Since I don't have a vehcile type, make and year who knows. Your rebuilt engine should come with a warranty from the shop so take it back now and ask. Most owners forums are worthless because many of the posters don't have a clue. You should read the amount of BS on some 2011 and newer Jeep Grand Cherokee forums. Clifton, VA

Thanks Clifton - I will also post your answer in the question so that the person concerned will see it.

I have a second car that I don't need to use very often, just once or twice a month. As a result, it gets 2,000-3,000 miles of driving each year. I know I could/should drive it more often. If a car should have the oil changed ever 3,000 miles, does that mean once a year for this car or more frequently because it should be changed every 3-4 months.

I have the same issue and I change mine only about once a year. My car is a 1993, garaged all the time.


For the poster looking for a fun CUV -- Have you tried a VW Tiguan? Size is good, and when it comes to driving dynamics, it's in another league from most other small CUVs. Same powertrain as a GTI.

Good point. The Tiguan is reasonably friendly in grass and dirt. And it fits nicely in the city. Also, the Nissan Rogue.

Supposed to last longer and draw less current and amperage. However they cost more although they do allow more aerodynamic designs. A quality Euro 7" round halogen headlight cost about $100 a pair. I havent found any new headlight technology that substantially outperforms this headlight. There are LED headlights but they are worth paying 4 times the cost and they have issues like not getting hot enough to melt snow and ice. LED, HID and laser dont perform that much better at 70mph and many cant keep up with a 7" round Euro halogen at 150mph+. I used to run Euro round headlights in my BMWs and VWs for years and never had a problem passing VA annual safety inspection. LED and Laser headlights to allow a similar nose for aerodynamics which helps mpgs Clifton, VA

The biggest point here is the inability to melt the snow. I have heard this is a problem. Thanks Clifton.

Hey guys, I wonder if I'm the only one annoyed by Clifton taking over these chats? Do you think he helps or hinders this open forum?

Clifton only gets two messages every week, it's just he does use those two every week, so you see him every week. He is knowledgeable about repairs etc, but I do cut him off when he becomes Clifton I love Jeep VA :)

warren and lou ann, you get to drive cars for a few days, maybe a week. we drive our cars for 6-10 years. how do you factor in engineering reliability, long-term durability, design innovations (or flaws), maintenance costs, high- or low-cost maintenance, etc., etc., etc. into your reviews for real-life car buyers? even leather seats and fancy dash boards are nice. but some leather wears out a lot faster than others, as do lights.

There are aspects that are obvious within the first 10 minutes, or 800 yeards, of driving a car. The other aspects we follow reliability/nhtsa recalls/consumer complaints. You do it long enough and you know.

A month ago my 2012 Chevy Cruze went into the shop after the (manual) transmission broke. At 40000 miles. Since other things had previously gone wrong with it I traded it in on a 2013 Beetle Convertible with a TDI. Really liking the Beetle so far.

I wish you had written in when you had the Cruze. I could have sent your complaint to Chevy. I like the little Cruze, better than some others. I do like the Beetle, though, especially the TDI.

I have an Audi A4 and a Porsche Boxster which are reliable, and in decent mechanical and physical condition, but of advancing years (if they were dogs they'd be "seniors"). I drove my father's new Audi S5 and adored it. Michelle Singletary would shoot me if I wiped out my entire emergency fund on a new car, however. What are the chances I'd be happy trading in both the A4 and Boxster for an A5 Cabriolet? I've never felt my A4's 2.0T to be inadequate, but I loved the solid feel of the S5.

Ms. Color of Money would appreciate that compromise. :)

What type of drive are you looking for? You don't tell me what years you have and whether this would be a down payment or whether you would need very little payment after that.

I love Audis. The drivability of an Audi, as you know, is getting better every year. The Audi RS7 is an amazing drive with a great suspension. The A5 cabriolet is a great upscale midsized car with aggresive handling that befits the 4 ringed badge.

Thanks, I appreciate your input on the Audi vs. TAcoma issue. My husband will love that you said to look at the diesel. We'll be looking at a used car either will see what I can find out. Thanks again!

Great. I drove the VW Passat TDI the other day and fell in love with it all over again. TDI just has great low-end torque that you will love.

Any thoughts on the new Highlander ... Wife is focused on that one right now because of the capitains chairs (I think she likes those muppet commercials too). Only other thought was the Enclave. We thought the interior of the santa fe was just a tad chincy ... they should have spent $500 more to upgrade the plastics

Interesting - the Santa Fe has more standard items at less of a price, but if you don't like the interior...

I like the Highlander. Did you know they have a hybrid coming out this year?

The Enclave is a favotie for both Warren and myself. The encore is based on the enclave, but I like the Enclave so much more.

Are you trading in a car? if so, if it is something other than a Toyota or Buick ask the dealer about a conquest deal. The manufacturers will sometimes give the dealer more money if they can get you out of a different manufacturer's car.

I love my 2006 r400h purchased in fall of 2005. but now more than eight years old. when I purchased it, it was suggested that I trade it in before year 10 because of batteries -- I suppose no one knew if they'd last. do I need to worry about them. 66K miles on car -- and I really don't like the new version. thanks!

I heard the same thing 6-10 years ago but I haven't heard of problems with Toyota/Lexus batteries. I have heard of problems with Honda's batteries but not Toyota. I talked to Bob Carter a year or so ago about batteries and he said they have seen less than 1 percent problems.

keep the car. Let me know if you start having problems.

Had asked you about a 2009 Mini a CR-Z and a Fiat 500`several weeks ago --- Got the CR-Z terrible choppy ride- Returned it ---thanks to 5 day return policy. Carmax is great for this,,, -- Now happy owner of a used Prius C---- Have you tested it I see no review on the site? Any other Prius C owners out there?

I have driven the Prius C. I am more of a Prius V type person but I like the Prius C for the compactness and the affordability.

I liked the Cruze. But the valve cover cracked at 15k, the key broke (and it took Chevy over a month to get me a new one) and then the tranny died. I decided I didn't want to be driving it when it came out of warranty. The Bug gets as good a mileage as the Cruze Eco and actually accelerates. The Cruze would stall if you tried to merge into Beltway traffic with the AC running.

If you start having problems with the VW let me know. I can't imagine Chevy knew all these problems. Sounds like a lemon. Mark Reuss would have loved to talk to you.

All TDIs get gret low end torque. Enjoy.

Rooting for Canada, but I went to college in the STL area in the '80s, so I like both teams. USA has played a better all-round game and should win with ease, 5-2. Hope I'm wrong. Enjoy the game! Garey, Ottawa

We will, my NAFTA friend. Warren has already left to go get dressed in red, white and blue :)

I went to the Toronto Auto Show last weekend. There seems to be a glut of good car choices out there these days! The new Chrysler 200 looks really good. And Kia has a very nice collection. IMHO their designs are more interesting than Hyundai's. Their Provo concept looks nice too. I love my MINI though...I just wish they would stop increasing the size every year. That might cause me to look elsewhere next time I want a new car.

I drive the Chrysler 200 next month, I will let you know then. Hyundai has come out with some exceptional designs, Kia is just now starting to gain that fame. I'm just not sure how many people want an expensive Kia.

MINI's new hardtop is great and you should look at it. Here's the unveil

We have the Prius V too. Dislike the regular Prius ergonimcs and lack of rear visibility stink..... But Love the V Like the Space hauling and the room for passengers. Thanks for the confirmation that we made a good choice with the baby prius,,, Enjoy ur advice

Thanks for the kind words.

I might be the first person to get a speeding ticket in the first generation Prius. I think the cop really just wanted to see the car - it was that new and that different :)

To all my Canadian and USA friends - enjoy the hockey game. Thank you for joining us today. Matt, as always you did a great job producing. And remember - never drive faster than your Angel can fly.

much love from Warren and myself.

Lou Ann

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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