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Car Doctor: I've never driven the Nissan GT-R

Posted by John Paul  June 8, 2011 01:15 PM

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Q. What do you think of the new Chevrolet Camaro convertible? I saw one on the road the other day and was impressed. By the way, have you driven my all-time favorite car, the Nissan GT-R?

A. I recently drove the Camaro and the convertible version does away with all the blind spots that I found with the hard top. The Camaro coupe, as stylish as it is, has terrible sight lines and difficult blind spots. With the top down, the Camaro is a true pleasure to drive. Unlike some cars that become convertibles, which can suffer from shake and shimmy, this convertible still handles well. Add in the SS trim with the V-8 engine and this is a modern day muscle car.

Regarding the GT-R, it looks interesting, but I have no idea about its capabilities. Since the car debuted in 2008, Nissan has never sent one to the press fleet here in New England.

Q. I am the owner of a 2008 Honda Accord sedan that spends six months in Florida and six months in Massachusetts. When I leave for Florida, I cover the auto with a fitted car cover. At approximately 5,200 miles, I was advised that my brake rotors were defective. I replaced them, and after driving it another 600 miles, the rotors were again diagnosed as being defective. At 12,000 miles the rotor condition appeared again, and they were replaced for a third time. This past year I wrapped and covered the wheels with tarpaulin, and the situation has shown mild improvement, yet it still showed thumping for the first 100 miles of driving. Do you have any recommendations for me as to a possible cure?

A. As good as Honda products have been, the 2008 model year has been fraught with brake problems, although not quite as bad as you are experiencing. The brake issues were bad enough that there has been a class action settlement. The car cover, if it is not allowing the car to breathe, may be trapping condensation and causing corrosion on the rotors. All cars that sit idle will develop some brake rust, but generally after driving the car a few miles it will wear off. Readers, have you had this problem?

Q. My mom is 78 years old and never wears her seatbelt, either when she drives or is driven as a passenger.  I know with the recent “click-it-or-ticket” campaigns that unbelted drivers are fair game for a subsequent ticket.  What happens when passengers are further found unbelted?  Does the driver receive a violation for each unbelted passenger, or are the passengers themselves held liable and thus subject to tickets?

A. In most states with seat belt laws, the fine falls to the driver, but not all. In Massachusetts, adults are personally responsible to buckle up. In other states the driver is the “captain of the ship” and it is up to them to see that all occupants are properly secured. Seat belts reduce the risk of being killed or seriously injured in a crash by about 50 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Your mother and all occupants should buckle up every time they are in a car. 

Q. I am changing the spark plugs in my 1997 Toyota RAV4 and am installing NGK iridium plugs. The specified torque is 13 ft.-lb. Do I use a lower torque setting with anti-seize lube on the threads? These new plugs stay in the engine so long that I don't want them to be difficult to remove the next time I change them.

A. This is a case of a simple question with a complex answer. As a general rule, whenever a lubricant is applied to a fastener it will change the torque required, in some cases by up to 25 percent. Your question of anti-seize brings a little science and engineering into the picture. Since the anti-seize is a lubricant, it will change the necessary torque. This is generally referred to as the K factor. The technical support staff at Loctite use an equation of T (target torque) = K (coefficient of fiction) x D (diameter) x P (desired load).

If all this gives you a headache, here is what I have done in the past. Start with a cold engine and clean the cylinder-head threads. When installing most spark plugs, use just a dab of lubricant and reduce the stated torque by a value of 20-25 percent. Just to add a little more confusion to the question, AC Delco with their spark plugs doesn’t recommend using any lubricant on spark plug threads.

John Paul is the public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England. He can be reached at jpaul@aaasne.com or on Twitter @johnfpaul.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
In the garage: Hyundai Sante Fe, Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on About.com. He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
In the garage: Mazda 5, Dodge Neon
George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
In the garage: Lifted 1999 Jeep Cherokee
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