Five-minute rule may save engine from catastrophe

A customer recently brought in his 2008 Toyota Sienna van after it had overheated. When we think a car has overheated, we ask some specific questions:

• How long do you think the car was overheating?

Versatile Nissan Pathfinder packs plenty of safety features


Courtesy of Nissan
The Nissan Pathfinder in top-of-the-line Platinum trim offers full safety and convenience systems. It has received a five-star crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

For the family that spends time at Lake Tahoe – taking winter trips with the snowmobile or summer vacations with the all-terrain vehicle or boat, complete with all the accompanying gear – there really isn’t a better choice than a midsize crossover. The Nissan Pathfinder, refreshed in 2016 and now in its last year with this current model, is a good choice for such tasks.

Two brands of hot coupe


Photo courtesy of BMW
BMW offers its new 440i coupe in hard top and convertible models.

After driving two high-performance 2018 coupes last month, the BMW 440i with track handling package and the Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack, we found it hard to imagine two vehicles that could be more similar in price and performance, yet more different in terms of the customers for whom they are designed.

The Challenger is priced at $51,000 and the 440i at $58,300, both are two-door coupes capable for track-day events, fun to drive around town and rated to go 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds.

The law and pedestrians and animals on the road

Miramonte Avenue
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
The California Vehicle Code states that “a pedestrian may walk close to (the) right-hand edge of the roadway if a … means of safely crossing the roadway is not available or if … conditions would compromise the safety of a pedestrian attempting to cross the road.”

Last month I discussed California laws regarding bikes on the road. A reader asked that I do the same for pedestrians.

Trying to make a connection with a Mazda

Recently a customer called to tell us that her 2006 Mazda Tribute was acting strange. The check-engine light, ABS light, traction-control light, cruise-control light, battery light and brake lights were on or flashing. In addition, the speedometer needle was jumping up and down, and the odometer was flashing.

When the car arrived at the shop, I went to confirm the complaint. The speedometer head looked like a Christmas tree, so we knew we were going to have to pull error codes by hooking the car up to our computer. When we tried to pull codes from the data-link connector (DLC), there was no communication with any module.

2018 Expedition Max: Ford keeps on truckin'


Courtesy of Ford
The Ford Expedition’s engine produces 375 horsepower and the vehicle gets 24 mpg on the highway.

By now, most people interested in automobiles have heard that Ford, the company that put America into motor cars, is getting out of the car business – with the exception of the Mustang – choosing to instead focus on trucks and SUVs.

Fortunately, Ford makes some good trucks for people who need truck capability to haul their horse trailer or boat but want to travel in an SUV while doing it. For them, there is the truck-based Ford Expedition, completely redesigned for 2018. We didn’t really need the largest SUV on the market for the Monterey Classic Car Week, but that was what was available. We’re pleased to say that in Max trim, we agree with other commentators who say this is the best full-size SUV on the market. Yes, it costs $72,185, but there is no other vehicle that is ready to tow a 9,000-pound trailer and seven passengers in comfort, or haul up to 121 cubic feet of cargo. The engine may produce only 375 horsepower, but with Ecoboost, it puts 470 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels through its 10-speed automatic transmission. Even with this power, the engine technology manages 17 mpg in the city and up to 24 mpg in highway use.

What impressed us

Lane-keeping technology, part of the semi-autonomous safety package, is a big help in keeping this 19-foot-long vehicle on the road. The system extends to preventing a trailer from destabilizing its steering and balance, a very important feature for people who don’t tow a heavy trailer that frequently.

A question of practicality

We have to wonder how many people really need this much vehicle most of the time.

Overall impression


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