Hooniverse Asks – Where Do You Go For Car Advice?

So far this week we asked if you ended up crushing on Top Gear USA, and whether or not MotorWeek is your guilty pleasure. Both of those show talk about cars, and Goss’ Garage even gives you product placement-tinged car advice. But when you’re really stumped over what to buy, when to change, or just how in the hell to get out of a moving car’s trunk (don’t ask), neither of those TV shows is a likely source of sage wisdom. So who, in your world, is?
Me, I go to my father in law. If he doesn’t know it, I probably do, so together we’re like the Husky and Starch of car facts and trivia. Other than that, as I am surrounded pretty regularly by old fart car nuts with the collected wisdom of the past three millennia, I tend to ask a lot of questions. If you want second hand knowledge of how an Aston Martin Zagato drives, I’ve collected that. How to pack a Jag 3.8-litre water pump shaft seal? Got that too.
There’s so much knowledge floating around out there, and seriously, this is one place where Google sort of sucks, it’s good to have at least one person you trust for advice. And someone who doesn’t mind you bugging them for that advice. So, who is your oracle, who do you go to to learn that a clutch fork isn’t the small one on the left?
Image source: [Wunderground.com]

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  1. engineerd Avatar

    Tom and Ray Magliozi.
    I mean, I don't even have to do any work. I tell them my problem and the color of the car and they tell me exactly what to do! Amazing!

    1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

      careful… i told them what i drive, what sound it was making.. and after some specifications (color, interior, options, etc.) i am married.

      1. jjd241 Avatar

        I always end up spinning the "wheel of automotive misfortune" and end up with needs new transmission.

    2. Maxichamp Avatar

      9 times out of 10, the Tap It Brothers will say the problem is with the CV joint.

      1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

        i've got some good mechanic friends (there are 3 generations of family in that shop) (who live too far away to be consulted regularly) that live by "f*kc it… put a new coil on it" and… i'll be damned…. that was what was wrong with the thundervan… needed a new ignition coil….. only took me and two other people to decide we had no idea what was wrong… and take it to a shop…..

  2. muthalovin Avatar


    1. Black Steelies Avatar

      This answer never fails. Plus, guaranteed ID + points.

      1. muthalovin Avatar

        I think that Hooniverse has some of the best car minds around. Other website offer decent enough advice on cars that I do not care about, but the 'Verse has people that I actually trust. There is plenty of sound and unsound advice out there, and I think we here have the best minds to troubleshoot just about anything, from "best, most reliable used 5-door wagon under 20K with a stick and turbo," to "what the hell is that KLANG KLANG KLANG I hear when at full throttle."

        1. TurboBrick Avatar

          1988 – 1990 Volvo 745 turbo wagon, and that noise is coming from the chain link fence you just drove through and are now dragging behind.

          1. muthalovin Avatar

            Also, I just ran over the Liberty Bell too. Could that also be making that noise?

          2. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

            What color is it?

          3. muthalovin Avatar

            I can't tell, since I am clearly driving and internetting. When I come to a stop I will take a look.

          4. Alff Avatar

            I just ate at Taco Bell. I don't think my car is making that noise.

          5. muthalovin Avatar

            Maybe its my tummy making that noise, and not my truck… Sometimes its hard to tell the difference.

        2. Black Steelies Avatar

          That comes from a diverse audience as well. Here I really like that among us are offroaders, hot rodders, autocrossers, and fans of just about every make under the sun. Our individual depth of knowledge coming from our interests combine with the breadth of interests in the community to make a seriously legit knowledge base.

          1. muthalovin Avatar

            It's true. Not all of us are here to see what the newest car coming from Toyota is. We are all kinds of car people, from daily-drivers to performance enthusiasts. When it comes to Mystery Whatever and Encyclopedia Hoontanica, I am always very impressed by the obscene amount of knowledge.

          2. Black Steelies Avatar

            As am I. Typically any response I submit is either low hanging fruit or the results of an intense session of google-fu.

          3. engineerd Avatar

            I usually just make sh*t up. Just ask Dearthair.

        3. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
          Peter Tanshanomi

          Even better, if somebody doesn't know something, there's no shame within our little online community in saying "I haven't the foggiest." Part of it is that we cover such a wide field that nobody could reasonably be expected to know it all, but furthermore, none of us has a commercial career at stake in how "expert" we come across.
          P.S. You shouldn't trust that Tanshanomi guy; I have solid evidence that everything he says is one giant ass-blanket.

          1. coupeZ600 Avatar

            I find it easier to just tell a story that is only in the slightest related to the original question, or better yet, a comment deep in the thread. (This is my shortest comment ever).

        4. jjd241 Avatar

          Why there's yur problum rite thar! http://www.tacomaworld.com/forum/general-automoti

          1. muthalovin Avatar

            Wow, that is amazingly impressive.

  3. Ryans92L Avatar

    I seek advice from one of two places, either http://www.taurusowners.com or my dad. If neither of them can answer my question, there is no answer!

  4. Maymar Avatar

    Mechanically, it's mostly my fiancee's dad. He used to be a licensed mechanic, so he's got a pretty healthy understanding of all the fundamentals. My best friend's dad is a similar wealth of knowledge, always having a project or two on the go.

  5. Joe Btfsplk Avatar
    Joe Btfsplk

    I ask my wife, she knows EVERYTHING and is NEVER wrong.

  6. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

    Jeepforum, Jeepsunlimited, Hooniverse, Lilwillie, (his advice seems best so far), my father in law…

    1. Thrashy Avatar

      Another one for the single-make/model owner's forums. When you're looking for specific info, it's heard to beat a website stuffed with people who've wrenched more or less exclusively on your exact car for years to decades. There's a guy on a couple of my Honda forums who's spent so much time rebuilding D-series transmissions that if you give him a basic description of the symptoms, he can immediately respond with what internals have failed, what the failure mode is, what further issues might arise, how many replacement parts he has in his basement, and how much he'd ask for to ship one of them to you.

      1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

        I have been known to check the Hayes manual or Google too, sometimes someone else's images and pratfalls help. If i'm on the fence for something I'll run it past my gearhead wife for a sanity check.
        I really need to find a Factory Service Manual for a 2000 TJ…

  7. skitter Avatar

    I have strong, patient Google-fu, but also ordered a factory service manual after deciding not to pay for a major service. With my own cars, I also have my mixed-up memories of wait, this happened before…

  8. Jeff Glucker Avatar
    Jeff Glucker

    I go to Tim

    1. jerjozwik Avatar

      yah.. im boned if he ever retreats to the backwoods to live in a log cabin with no connection to the outside world.

  9. dwegmull Avatar

    Advice? I don't need advice: I just keep on making bone headed mistakes.

  10. Alff Avatar

    Manny, Moe and Jack … the three best friends my car will ever need.

  11. 3024x4 Avatar

    Fordtruckfanatics,com, if I have a problemwith my Bronco there's anough knowledge on there to help my get it fixed, It's a smaller fourm so you don't get the idiots that the large ones get.

  12. P161911 Avatar

    For specialized car specific stuff, either the factory manual or a specific forum. Maybe even a general Google search. Just depends on what it is.

    1. Black Steelies Avatar

      Google. Probably the best answer there is. I explained to my dad how I use it to solve all my computer mishaps and he was genuinely amazed. He asks me questions like I'm some sort of tech-support genius. It gave a pretty detailed set of instructions for replacing my fuel pump too.

      1. GTXEliminator Avatar

        For computer problems google is the best resource. Period.

  13. Froggmann_ Avatar

    For me, I usually go to that car's specialty board like RX7Club.com, FullSizeBronco.com, Maxima.org, and the like. Typically, once you register and start using the search function all your answers will show up at your fingertips.

  14. lilwillie Avatar

    Lean over and shout at the Old man behind me or http://www.iatn.net/ is the usual place for questions I need answering.

  15. mdharrell Avatar

    Well, if I ever manage to get my '59 Ford reassembled, I suppose I could ask the owner of the one in the photo. Meanwhile I usually turn to my father (former mechanic) or one of my brothers (current mechanic).

  16. dukeisduke Avatar

    For my truck, it's mainly Flatratetech.com, and for my Previa, I'm a member of the Yahoo! Previa Group and email list. I also have a friend who has been a mechanic on the side for 35 years. I've been doing my own repairs since 1978. I had a '75 Vega, and I took it to the dealer for a tuneup. After their tuneup, the engine would stall whenever I turned on the A/C, and it pinged on acceleration. So, I went to Sears and bought a chrome Penske timing light and tach/dwell meter, and a Craftsman 3/8" drive socket set (all of which I still own), and a Haynes manual, and went home and adjusted the timing and the idle. After that I never looked back.
    About the only work I won't do now is A/C work (I don't have a compressor or vacuum pump) or automatic transmission and differential repair.

  17. dukeisduke Avatar

    I hope that '59 Ford in the picture isn't abandoned. It looks so good.

    1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

      The grass is hiding the knee high rust…

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        No, speaking from experience, when a '59 is that rusty it also means the front edge of the hood will be rusted out right along the area… also… obscured… in this view. Hmmm.

    2. Black Steelies Avatar

      Follow the link to Wunderground.
      I thought it was just a weather site but the blog portion has a bunch of pics of cars in the sun and people's pet dogs. Who knew?!?!

  18. BGW Avatar

    I just go to Advance Auto. Both our cars run like absolute hell, but you should see the seatcovers!
    BRB, going to buy fake portholes for the Subaru.

  19. joshuman Avatar

    Years ago, I worked at a place that had a machine shop and a bunch of guys who liked to work on cars in the evenings. They had loads of tools and knowledge. I took advantage of the opportunity, got a parts car and a second job, and tore apart my own car. I learned a hell of a lot from them about how things work. I put it back together again and drove it a few more years. That foundation of knowledge has served me well.
    I don't have a project car these days. For the Audi I turn to vwvortex.com. Sure, some of those rooms are a mess of idiots but usually the technical rooms are full of people who know what they are doing. The Volvo doesn't have the same cult following but really does not need any work done. Even so, Google can help me change the odd lightbulb without breaking one of those stupid plastic tabs.

  20. OA5599 Avatar

    It depends on what sort of advice I want.
    If I'm on the fence about buying some oddball low-production contraption for which replacement parts have been unavailable for decades, I go to the appropriate message boar/group/forum for that make and model. Invariably, the advice from the forumfanboys is to buy it, so even if I end up with a smoldering pile of white elephant, at least I have someone to commiserate with to counter my buyer's remorse.
    If I want to know why the check engine light is blinking in my daily driver, even though it is carbed and has points ignition, I ask the smartest guy on the arcane cars forum.from step one. If he can work magic with band-aids and bailing wire on his own POS, he can probably figure out how to do the same with any make or model.
    If I want advice on whether I can be a true "car guy" without being a social media follower, I check Jalopbook.

  21. mad_science Avatar

    Occasionally here.
    Beyond that, it's usually model-specific forums (Fordmuscle, Bimmerforums and NASIOC).
    I don't bother with the very forum-y stuff (debating the best ____ or OT nonsense), but tend to ask questions that people either know or don't know the answer to: "when I do [x], car does [y]" or "does anyone make a ____ for [my oddball e12-based 633csi or 5-bolt 260ci V8]?"
    Beyond that, my history of various slightly crappy cars has me at a place where, equipped with a manual, I can usually boil things down pretty quickly. Remember: Fuel, Spark, Compression, the three things you need for it to run.

  22. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    Well, firstly I've never ever sought pre-purchase advice, I either spend months umming and arring until I suddenly grow a pair and suddenly fork over the wedge, or I act impulsively in the fear that somebody else gets there first.
    Having secured said dubious wheeled conveyance, typically I'll then trawl the related forums, lurk a while, see whose gibs I most like the cut of, and then sign up. When I got my Saab I looked at various saab forums, until I found one that literally had me in stitches with every other comment. If the members can barely string a sentance together, like a lot of "scene" forums I could mention, it ain't the place for me.
    I've just become a member of Rover800info.com, who will probably end up being my salvation as I fall into Rover 800 ownership again….

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      I'm with you on this. Avoiding all pre-purchase advice got me where I am today.

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        I can imagine the blank faces you'd get today if you asked anybody in the US whether or not to buy an MG Metro….

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          At this point, most people around here who know me would instead sigh, lower their heads, close their eyes, and resignedly mutter something along the lines of "Oh, great, he's found another one." The second word might not be "great" or even sound all that much like it, however.

    2. Alff Avatar

      Best of luck with that. A Rover TC is on my automotive bucket list – the lovely elderly British couple living next door when I was a child had one, I've been infatuated ever since. Unfortunately, they are in exceedingly short supply here in the American midwest.

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        I'd love one, but it'd have to be a 3500. Also, any half decent P6, even SCs or TCs are waaaaay above my usual budget. My incoming Rover aquisition is £free, which I can just about afford.

  23. Black Steelies Avatar

    When I worked with the county it was helpful to consult the fleet mechanic. He had little patience for other people's simple problems, and the stupid shit that happens to county equipment resulting in wasted time and money. We both however were nuts about cars and he was able to appreciate that when talking with me. From some of our talks I learned a great deal.
    Now I just consult my Haynes book or a multitude of older friends that have 'been there before'. Unfortunately for me, dad is of little use for car advice and grandpa died almost 40 years ago, but I manage.

  24. LTDScott Avatar

    Not tooting my own horn, but I'm the most knowledgeable car guy I know. So if I can't handle it, it's off to the internet I go.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      Not tooting your own horn? That's usually just a bad ground, but if yours has an adjustment screw, that's also worth trying. Only rarely is something wrong with the rest of the wiring harness and switch, so save that for last. Could be the fuse, I suppose, but then there's the question of why it failed in the first place….

    2. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      You are, it has to be said, shit-hot, but I'm still amazed you hadn't heard of Monteverdi….
      Some kind of pizza, right?

      1. LTDScott Avatar

        After I posted on the Monteverdi thread, I remembered recently reading about the company on Bring-a-Trailer (which featured a Monteverdi Mercedes W-126 conversion), but I did not know about their sports car.

        1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

          I just always wanted a 375/4, even when I was a little kid I wanted my dad to get one. Far cooler than his Cortina.

    3. Alff Avatar

      The good people at Permatex have some advice for you…
      <img src="http://www.fakeplasticrock.com/wp-content/uploads/grease-guitar-dielectric-grease.jpg"&gt;

  25. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    I generally refer to my own memory bank. It's like a trail of broken dreams. And while there are lots of good and bad advice available out on the intertubes, nothing lets you really figure out what went wrong like a 10 mile walk home through bear country.

  26. jim-bob Avatar

    I usually just use the factory service manual but I also use model specific forums as well. For the Metro, it's GeoMetroForum, com. For the Cutlass Supreme it's Gbodyforum.com. However, most of the time I am am competent enough to just figure it out by myself unless it is a very specific issue requiring a specific procedure.

  27. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    For cars, I have the guys here at the H'verse (obviously), plus the guys who help me put on the annual car show at my church:
    – the hot rodder and 2-stroke bike tuner
    – the drag racer with the wicked-fast 9-sec Trans Am
    – the Porsche 914 guy who is also a Craigslist wizard
    – the owner of an automotive electronics shop.
    For bikes, I turn to my old friend Jimbo (the guy I wrote about who did the 5-state ride on the V-Strom 1000) as well as a local bike dealer that I used to work for and know well.
    Re: my Suzuki cruiser specifically, Intruder Alert.
    For PWCs, greenhulk.net

  28. mad_science Avatar

    "Knowing the answer is usually indistinguishable from knowing how to get the answer."
    I like that. A lot.

  29. buzzboy7 Avatar

    I worked for the guy I bought my VW from. From then on I actually built large parts of my car in his garage. I spent a solid 80 hours building my first engine. He may have lost patience a few times but having a VW mechanic working next to you while you do your work is quite helpful. He is still my mechanic if there are things I don't want to do in my front yard(clutch/pp on the comet) and my source for automotive thoughts and feelings and help.
    I've found that in most cases if I need help with a problem most good mechanics can help you out on most cars with most problems unless you have a very model/brand specific problem. When I am thinking about buying a new car I do the exact same thing. I go see a couple mechanics to with my list of potentials. I'll get opinions on what things break or don't work well on the different cars.

  30. Black Steelies Avatar

    Or unless you explicitly tell everyone you just looked it up haha.

  31. ptschett Avatar

    For repairs:
    A guy can go a long way with a good manual. Chilton's is not a good manual in my experience. Too much "use special tool OMG-WTF-BBQ" where another manual might tell you how to make one from a length of 5/8" ready-rod and some nuts (what I've just described is the fork disassembly tool for my KLR650.)
    If it's specific and I don't have the book (like, how the heck does the water pump come out of a Northstar Caddy), I go to the internets. (It takes a 6-fingered socket that reaches around the impeller.)
    For general tech I'll ask my Dad, especially if I'm stumped after trying to figure it out myself. This is the guy who recently put a new(er) frame under a '93 Dakota to get a few more years out of it, and who in the '70's gave a '55 IH pickup a heart transplant with an 8000 RPM, triple-valve-springed, dual-carbureted, tunnel-rammed 307ci SBC. I think he'd be one of us if he had the time for the internets.
    For purchases:
    The only time I really sought advice was when I was deciding what motorcycle to begin with, and even then I think I would have come around to the dual sports as soon as I realized how boring my local paved roads were. Both the Dodges were entirely my own doing (I'm sure that's a shock), and I had help with the T-bird (I wasn't thinking of anything nearly that new or nice, but my parents wanted me in a newer, safer, reliable car for my college travels.)

  32. zsm Avatar

    I've got a few, Fred, Mike, Lester, Randy, Ash, Kyle, Lenny, Chris, Scott, the list goes on. It's funny sometimes we meet cause something has got us down, a girlfriend, a brother, cancer, a job, whatever; and we just end-up talking about cars. I've heard a lot of stories about fixing what-not that I'll never own myself, it's what I like more than real advice I guess.
    But back to the question at hand. You need a person that is right more often than wrong, but he has to be willing to listen, have time to spare, easy to talk to, be full of good stories, not make you feel like an idiot your self, and just through dumb luck have had a lot of experience with your type of car already. So I'll have to go with Mike (you know who you are here) and Fred (pictured in shadow). You guys are great and thanks for everything, sorry about being the pain in your side I am.
    <img src="http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/comment/12/2010/12/b552e5e500489c5b5e1048696ee475c7/original.jpg&quot; width="500">

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      Nice Amazon!

      1. zsm Avatar

        Isn't it, it's the nicest one I've ever seen. It's has a lot of things that make it unique as well as pretty. It has electronic overdrive, the steering wheel and front seats from a GTS, retractable shoulder belts from a 240 I think, electronic ignition from a 140 I think, power brake booster from a 220 I think, and IPD sport intake and exhaust. It even has a grundig AM/FM/cassette that was small enough to fit. I think Fred has had 19 Volvos, he kept lots of the best parts over the years from them and they went into this one.
        I got to drive it once so far. Except for steering it was very much like a modern car. This Amazon is what I am shooting for mine to be like. A couple of weeks back I called a guy selling a parts car P1800. Yesterday I emailed a guy selling two parts ES cars. One of these days I'll get a nibble.

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          A friend of mine (also the former owner of a 144 and an 1800) had an Amazon that looked very much like the one in your photo. Regrettably it was factory-equipped with the Borg-Warner automatic, which not only gave him no end of trouble but also sapped the car's performance and mileage. This option is somewhat rare, however, so he couldn't bring himself to swap it out; instead he eventually sold the car to someone who really wanted one set up that way. They're out there.

          1. zsm Avatar

            He had one like that too (like I said owned 19 Volvos) and the BW was the fun killer and weak point. I think he sold it after just 2 years. What I'll never see, but really want to, is an Amazon with a front bench and a column shifter. They're out there too, he showed me a picture, very few were sold like that, I think he said they were exported to South America or was it South Africa. Sorry he's told me a lot of stuff, it all gets confused sometimes. Still haven't heard back from parts cars CL guy, that happens a lot.
            If you want something in the middle for you in terms of age and size, you might be interested in this, or maybe your buddy is:

            1967 Volvo p220 Amazon Wagon All Original – $1650 (Bellingham North)
            <img src="
            http://images.craigslist.org/3kb3ma3p25V35O55T6b1pa5c60ef326851988.jpg&quot; width="300">

            I don't know how far away you are from Bellingham, but a someone who owns a P1800 sent me this one. I guess you won't like the wheels, but I do. Seller has the originals too, you get both! Keep the enkeis for me 😉 But it seems you can't chuck a tuna without hitting En Gammel Amason near Seattle, so maybe not.

  33. guest Avatar

    the forums specifically devoted to the vehicle. I own a G6 and it took 5 years for Haynes to do a hodge-podge manual. So I went to http://www.g6performance.com/forum/ and some of the guys there actually worked at the Pontiac delaerships and drove the products themselves and would photocopy and scan the applicable sections of the GM factory tech manuals for the fellow forum users

  34. Plecostomus Avatar

    For Volvo advice, when I don't know, I ask IPD, because a knowledgeable person will answer the phone and likely have the evil widget I need to fix it in stock.
    For nearly everything else, I can usually find the answers I need in a model-specific enthusiast internet forum. Let's be real here- there's an enthusiast forum for EVERYTHIIIIIIING no matter how terrible you and I might think it is. The trick is just finding the "main" or most active forum for that make or model.
    For finding out WHAT THE HELL IS THAT or Does anyone know what the hell this component is or Does anyone have anything bad to say about XYZ, my Hooniverse and car community friends are the people I turn to.
    For Moto advice, I've been applying the same rule, but bothering my motojournalist friends is fun too.